The Supreme Court’s conservative justices took a hard line Wednesday against affirmative action, suggesting that universities will have a difficult time justifying the use of race even as a minor factor in their admissions decisions.
In oral arguments over the admissions policies at the University of Texas, the Court’s conservatives questioned whether the school’s affirmative-action program works and, even if it does, whether it meets the high bar the Court applies to programs that assign a race-based preference.
“I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many black students as possible,” Justice Antonin Scalia said.
As the university’s attorney extolled the virtues of fostering diversity at the state’s flagship campus, Scalia suggested not only that the state was going about it incorrectly, but that the goal itself might be misplaced.
“Most of the black scientists in the country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools,” Scalia said.
The Court’s conservatives were clearly angling for a ruling that Texas had not met its burden for justifying the use of race in college admissions. But Justice Anthony Kennedy—who almost certainly holds the deciding vote in the case—seemed at least open to giving the school another chance.