News Release

Supreme Court Decision Puts Affirmative Action in “Perilous” Position


The Supreme Court ruled today to send Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — which raised the issue of factoring race into the college admissions process — back to the lower courts for further proceedings.

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, via Ezra Young, ezra.young at
Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, Kimberlé Crenshaw is a leading authority in the area of civil rights, black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review and Southern California Law Review. She is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop, and the co-editor of the volume, Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement. Crenshaw is co-founder of the African American Policy Forum.

She said today: “In remanding the Fisher case back to the Court of Appeals, ominous notes are heard. Although there is a sense that perhaps we have lived to fight another day, the terms of this new fight appear quite perilous.”

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, nikole.hannah-jones at
Hannah-Jones covers civil rights with a focus on segregation and discrimination in housing and schools at ProPublica. Her 2012 coverage of federal failures to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act won several awards, including Columbia University’s Tobenkin Award for distinguished coverage of racial or religious discrimination. She said today: “The Supreme Court ruling in Fisher leaves affirmative action intact but makes it clear that designing such programs in a way that passes constitutional muster will become increasingly difficult. The ruling also forecasted — if not invited– a larger challenge to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger altogether.

“A common myth around affirmative action is that race is no longer a major obstacle to advancement, that class matters more. But black and Latino students who are middle class still face distinct disadvantages that cannot be explained by class and the absence of race-based affirmative action will lead to declines in black and Latino enrollment even if it’s replaced with a system of class preference.”