February 21, 2012

Will #SCOTUS gut affirmative action?

The state of Texas' "top 10 rule," whereby the top 10 percent of graduates at any public high school automatically qualify for admission to state universities, and the state uses race as a guideline, but nowhere near the main one, and was sued against by a white student, will go before the Supreme Court.

Before Fisher, the last big affirmative action case like this was Grutter in 2003. The state says it's following the guidelines the Court, carefully controlled on this decision by Sandra Day O'Connor, wrote then. But, the court's changed a LOT in this area of the law. Samuel Alito is far more conservative than O'Connor. And John Roberts is arguably a few degrees further right than William Rehnquist as Chief.

I think the Obama White House is right to be worried. Especially if this gets the political backdrop of the Court hearing arguments in October, just before the election.

UT says it's not worried, but I think it should be. What do legislative Democrats like Royce West who sponsored the top-10 measure think?

I think there's no doubt the Court will "modify" the affirming of the ruling by the appellate court, even though the Fifth Circuit is itself highly conservative. The question is, will the "modify" be a trim, a cut, a slash, a whack or even worse?

I predict something around a "cut" on paper, but one that winds up being closer to a "slash" in reality. Of course, the state could go to a class-based affirmative action, but, the very pro-business SCOTUS probably wouldn't buy that, either.

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