SCOTUS Issues Ruling On Affirmative Action, and It's A Little Weird


This morning, the Supreme Court finally delivered its opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas—the affirmative action case the Court has been marinating on since October. And the decision was…anti-climactic.

The justices completely avoided making a substantive decision about the constitutionality of the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policy. Instead, in a 7-1 decision, they held that the lower court hadn’t analyzed the case properly and sent it back for further review. In other words, the Court was totally going to write a sweeping decision on affirmative action but it was tired and didn’t feel like it, dude.

Honestly, I’m okay with this. The conservative wing of the Court isn’t exactly known for its racial sensitivity—all five of them appear to be operating under the assumption that any designation based on race is improper, even when that designation serves to protect members of a certain race that have been historically marginalized. The conservative justices’ definition of racism all but ignores subordination and systemic abuse. In fact, Justice Thomas, the evil ghost who haunts the Slytherin common room, made it clear in his concurrence that he’d like to get rid of affirmative action, a policy that he considers a form of racial discrimination. There’s no way maniacs like these can be counted on to make reasonable decisions when it comes to diversity initiatives.

Given the Court’s ideological stance on race, I consider today’s decision something of a win for affirmative action. The plaintiff in this case, Abigail Fisher, probably should, too—because her case sucks and she deserves to lose. Fisher argued that she was denied admission to UT because she was a victim of racial discrimination. This argument is absurd. No one has benefited more from affirmative action than white women. Not only that, Fisher is boring and had below average grades and test scores.

Fisher applied to UT in 2008. Her high school GPA was a 3.59 and her SAT score was 1180—well below UT’s rigorous standards. But both of Fisher’s parents are alumni of the school, so Fisher’s goal was to attend and then find work in Austin after graduation. When she didn’t get in, she decided to attend Louisiana State University instead, and then apparently avoided the “critical race theory” section of the undergraduate course catalog. Anyway, homegirl graduated from LSU, immediately got a job in Austin and decided to file a lawsuit. Cry me a river, you rotten apple! One time, I didn’t get into the school from which both my parents graduated so I just went to another school and now I’m almost a lawyer.

Who knows what the Court makes of Fisher’s arguments (although I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Ruth Bader G was NOT IMPRESSED). The Court chose to ignore that aspect of the case altogether. All we know for sure is that affirmative action still exists, for now. White people will still be admitted to college, but may be forced to go to Oberlin instead of Brown. Because of affirmative action, these white people will have to experience racial diversity in the student body. And then those white people will, I don’t know, go on to make up 99.9% of Forbes’ “400 Richest People in America” list.

It is now up to a federal appeals court to re-examine Fisher’s case and decide whether or not UT’s use of race as a factor in admissions is constitutional. It’s very possible that this case will work its way back to the Supreme Court after the appeals court makes its decision—but that could take awhile. So enjoy your racially integrated intramural frisbee golf league while you can, college students!

Meagan Hatcher-Mays is a recent graduate of Washington University Law School in Saint Louis. She does a significant amount of yelling on Twitter.

Image via Getty.

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