US Supreme Court Sends Affirmative Action Case Back To Lower Court
By The Associated Press, with addtional reporting from Illinois Public Media
The Supreme Court has sent a Texas case on race-based college admissions back to a lower court for another look.
The court's 7-1 decision Monday leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, says a federal appeals court needs to subject the University of Texas admission plan to the highest level of judicial scrutiny.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) issued a statement after the Supreme Court's ruling.
“Today’s decision reaffirms our nation’s commitment to racial and ethnic diversity” Durbin said. “This decision also recognizes the value of diversity not only on our college campuses, but also in our workforce, our military, and our society as a whole. As both an issue of social justice and as an economic necessity, America cannot afford to turn back the clock on opportunity for all of our citizens and today—by a 7-1 margin—the Supreme Court agrees.”
University of Illinois administrators are poring over the court's decision.
U of I President Robert Easter and Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise issued statements after the ruling, saying they are committed to a culture of diversity on all three campuses.
Those efforts include the Illinois EDGE Initiative on the Urbana campus, an action plan announced last year to develop a culture of diversity and excellence. But U of I spokesman Tom Hardy said that plan is subject to change.
“Anything that would affect our practices as a result of a court ruling – that would be something that we’d review obviously very carefully," he said. "And always we strive to operate within the bounds of the law.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, the U of I has had trouble bringing in African-American students in recent years. Last year, just over 5-percent of undergraduates on the Urbana campus were black, compared to nearly 7-percent a decade ago. The number of Latino students grew over that time to about 7-percent.
In a statement, Chancellor Wise said the Urbana campus has a strong commitment in its Diversity Values Statement to include worldviews, histories, and cultural knowledge across a range of social groups.
Meanwhile., the U of I’s Chicago campus has developed its own plan called the Diversity Strategic Thinking and Planning process, while the Springfield campus’ Black Male Initiative involves educational programs, mentoring, and co-curricular activities.