Perhaps the best that could have been expected from the Roberts court was a compromise on the affirmative action case, Fisher vs. University of Texas, Austin. That seems to be the result in the 7-1 decision, which affirms the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter vs. Bollinger that explicitly allowed race to be a factor in admissions decisions, as long as it was not the determining factor.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Fisher and opposed the Grutter decision, kept the Texas ruling narrow, sending the case back to the lower courts to determine whether the university properly applied the principles laid out in Grutter. That counts as a victory — for now — for the freedom of colleges and universities to determine what education entails and how to achieve their goals.
For now, the profound educational, social and economic benefits from racial and ethnic diversity ensured by Grutter live for another day — or case.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.