Partner Kerry Scanlon Discusses Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling in Politico

June 24, 2013

Politico reports on the recent Supreme Court decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, which sent the case back to the lower courts while vacating an earlier ruling that upheld the university’s affirmative action policies. Plaintiff Abigail Fisher had sued the university believing that as a white female she was denied admission in favor of someone of a different race. The court, which previously upheld affirmative action policies in the 2003 Grutter ruling, reiterated the importance of a diverse student body but told the lower courts to examine the specific program at the University of Texas further.

According to Kaye Scholer Partner Kerry Scanlon, Co-Head of the firm’s Employment & Labor Practice and a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, “It’s an interesting vote and it took a long time, which made people wonder what was happening, but it seems like a majority of the court and Justice [Anthony] Kennedy—in particular—sees value in diversity.”

Many noted that the ruling may deter large universities from considering race during the admissions process, as it will likely lead to more litigation on the topic. As Scanlon points out, “It’s not like the decision simply maintains the status quo. It definitely makes it harder. It tightened the reins a bit.”

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