Two major rulings, one on Affirmative Action and the other on Immigration, are just out this morning from the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Affirmative Action case ruling upholds the program at the University of Texas in a 4-3 decision. The case originated out of a lower Texas court and was brought by a white student, Abigal Fisher, who claimed she had been discriminated against for being white.
Affirmative Action supporters were nervous the case could set back progress by decades if SCOTUS did not rule in favor of upholding the program. Justice Scalia, an opponent of Affirmative Action, remarked during oral arguments that ‘blacks belonged at slower colleges’ indicating that had Justice Scalia lived to rule on the case, it would have come in at a 4-4 tie.
Today’s ruling is a victory for racial justice and will strengthen Affirmative Action programs around the nation:
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., dissented.
The case concerned the University of Texas’ idiosyncratic admissions program. Most applicants from within the state are admitted under a part of the program that guarantees admission to top students in every high school in the state. (This is often called the Top 10 Percent program, though the percentage cutoff can vary by year.)
The Top 10 Percent program has produced significant racial and ethnic diversity. In 2011, for instance, 26 percent of freshmen who enrolled under the program were Hispanic, and 6 percent were black. Texas is about 38 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black.
The case challenged a second part of the admissions program. Under it, remaining students from Texas and elsewhere are considered under standards that take into account academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity. Many colleges and universities base all of their admissions decisions on such holistic grounds.
The immigration case did not bring such good news as the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Obama did not have the legal authority to put in place, through executive order, an immigration in plan that would have allowed adults, who have children who are legal citizens, to remain in the country.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday announced that it had deadlocked in a case challenging President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. The 4-4 tie left in place an appeals court ruling blocking the plan, dealing a sharp blow to an ambitious program that Mr. Obama had hoped would become one of his central legacies. Instead, even as the court deadlocked, it amplified the already contentious election-year debate over the nation’s immigration policy and presidential power.
The case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, concerned a plan to allow as many as five million unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program that would spare them from deportation and provide them with work permits. The program was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
In response, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices that this “lawful presence” was merely what had always followed from the executive branch’s decision not to deport someone for a given period of time.
“Deferred action does not provide these individuals with any lawful status under the immigration laws,” he said. “But it provides some measure of dignity and decent treatment.”
“It recognizes the damage that would be wreaked by tearing apart families,” Mr. Verrilli added, “and it allows individuals to leave the shadow economy and work on the books to provide for their families, thereby reducing exploitation and distortion in our labor markets.”
Today’s rulings highlight the importance of the upcoming SCOTUS Justice appointment as well as future potential appointments and the critical role Justices play in not only setting legislation but shaping the trajectory and the character of our country: Do we value diversity and equal opportunity for every citizen or will we allow bigotry and racism continue to taint our character?
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) June 23, 2016
This decision reaffirms that our nation is stronger when we create a more diverse and inclusive environment. https://t.co/zkMDhCKXjt
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 23, 2016