Why the Supreme Court got Affirmative Action right (and what the pundits missed)

Legal experts are stunned by the ruling that colleges must exhaust all other options for diversity before using race. They shouldn’t be. 

By Jacob Kushner

If you followed news coverage leading up the Fisher v. Texas case decided Monday by the US Supreme Court, you may well have concluded that the Court was on the verge of ending affirmative action in higher education, forever.

MSNBC’s “The Cycle” co-host Touré said in November that if the court ruled against affirmative action, “the entire leadership of America would become entirely white.”

Even the man who led the 2003 Supreme Court case that upheld race-conscious admissions at the University of Michigan wanted you to believe that, if the present Court had overturned that precedent, it would have meant the end of racial diversity in higher education.

“It is too easy to think that striving for racial and ethnic diversity is such a powerful part of our culture that surely it will continue. But if the Supreme Court were to declare it unconstitutional, then it will not, and should not, continue,” Lee Bollinger, now President of Columbia University, told Columbia Magazine last year.

So it must have surprised Bollinger when the Court threw a curveball this week announcing it would send the case back to a lower court to determine if the University of Texas had considered race only after exhausting all its other options for diversifying the college.

Those familiar with the rich case history on affirmative action in America shouldn’t be surprised: there was no logical reason to believe that the affirmative action debate was anywhere near over.

Read the full story as it appeared at Medium.