The Supreme Court ruled on two key issues affecting minorities. Here’s how they affect you:
Case: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Issue: Affirmative Action in College Admissions Policies
On Monday, June 24, the Supreme Court did not outlaw affirmative action as anticipated. In a 7-1 vote, however, the court sent the case back to a lower court for further review. This may make it harder for universities and other institutions to defend racial preferences in future cases. It may also hurt University of Texas at Austin’s defense of its admission’s policy. Its program not only takes race into consideration, but also family income and other factors whites can benefit from as well.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas compared affirmative action to the act of segregating people by race in the south during the Jim Crow Era. Justice Thomas wrote, “The University’s arguments today are no more persuasive than they were 60 years ago. … There is no principled distinction between the University’s assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists’ assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits.”
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Mary Dudziak, Special to CNN, wrote, “It is troubling to see such a strong judicial footprint in educational policy when there is no reason to believe that white students in Texas lack political power or the ability to be heard when educational policy is made at the state and university level.”
Case: Shelby County v. Holder
Issue: Voting Rights Act
Also, in a 5-4 ruling on Tuesday (June 25) the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. President Obama said he was disappointed with the ruling as it upsets decades of well-established practices that have ensured fair voting practices for Black voters. The court decision does not guarantee that states can pass whatever legislation they want on voting, especially amid a push for controversial provisions such as voter ID laws.
Agreeing with the sentiments of President Obama regarding the court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee said, “Minority voters in places with a record of discrimination are now at greater risk of being disenfranchised than they have been in decades. Today’s decision is a blow to democracy. Jurisdictions will be able to enact policies which prevent minorities from voting, and the only recourse these citizens will have will be expensive and time-consuming litigation.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “Today will be remembered as a step backwards in the march towards equal rights. We must ensure that this day is just a page in our nation’s history, rather than the return to a dark chapter.”
How do you think your future will be affected by the Supreme Court’s rulings?