A Supreme Court ruling in the University of Texas affirmative-action case shows a stronger leaning toward race-neutral ways to help minorities. Indeed, new ways are needed to help the disadvantaged.
In a ruling Monday, the US Supreme Court gave its sternest warning yet that the use of racial discrimination in admissions should be the last choice for public schools in achieving a racially diverse learning environment for students.
In a rare 7-to-1 decision, the justices told a lower court to make sure the University of Texas proves that “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity” that would justify race-based policies. The justices admonished a lower court for taking it merely on “good faith” that the university had tried hard enough to avoid discrimination.
So now many schools may need to rethink the ways they can achieve both the benefits of campus diversity and – without saying as much – a legal way to admit underqualified minorities. Many higher-ed institutions, for example, are working with high schools to better prepare minorities for college.
Texas had already gone far in developing a race-neutral method. It guarantees admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of each state high school – many of which are dominated by blacks or Hispanics. But that was not enough for the state. It also uses race as a factor in admitting minorities who don’t meet educational standards.