The Supreme Court’s Next Big Showdown
The court has already announced that it will hear a challenge to affirmative action in higher education. In that case, a white student rejected by the University of Texas is arguing that the school doesn’t need to choose students based on racial preferences because it already achieves diversity by guaranteeing admission to state residents in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
Affirmative action was upheld nine years ago, but the composition of the court has changed since then. Five members are now openly skeptical of racial preferences. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it in a 2007 case involving integration at the K-12 level: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
The justices could also deal a blow to minorities if they take up a challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Ala. Officials there say a provision in that law requiring jurisdictions in 16 mostly southern states to get federal clearance before changing their voting rules—so as not to disenfranchise blacks and other minorities—unfairly targets jurisdictions for racial crimes of the past.