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SCOTUS Decisions: Monday


  1. 7:05 p.m. ET We're signing off for now, folks! Thanks for joining us. We'll be here all week so please come back tomorrow morning for more Supreme Court decision reaction, and analysis. ^MG
  2. 6:15 p.m. ET On Monday's PBS NewsHour, Gail Heriot of the University of San Diego Law School spoke to Gwen Ifill about interpreting the narrow ruling: 

    This is not an earth-shaking opinion. Ms. Fisher did win the case. The case will now be remanded back to the Fifth Circuit. But essentially what the court did was clarify when it was willing to defer to academic expertise and when it wasn't willing. The Fifth Circuit had interpreted the previous decision to require it to defer not just on whether or not diversity is a compelling purpose, but also whether the particular policy involved was narrowly tailored to serve that purpose.  

    Lee Bollinger, president of Colombia University, spoke about the relevance of popular support:

    If you ask, should certain races be given preferences in admissions?  A majority of people will respond no.  But if you ask whether colleges and universities should try to build diverse student bodies racially and ethnically and consider race, a majority will support that. This is also the Constitution.  And for many years, since Brown vs. Board of Education, this country has worked on its past, on 200 years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow laws.  And we still have a ways to go on that.  That has been the ideal.  And Brown vs. Board of Education wasn't decided by popular vote, and it's really the Constitution, the 14th Amendment that we're talking about.  

    The full discussion and transcript will be available online here later this evening.

  3. 5:58 p.m. ET Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review.
  4. 5:15 p.m. ET U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued this statement.

    I am pleased that the Supreme Court ruling in the Fisher case today preserves the well-established legal principle that colleges and universities have a compelling interest in achieving the educational benefits that flow from a racially and ethnically diverse student body, and can lawfully pursue that interest in their admissions programs. As the Court has repeatedly recognized, a diverse student enrollment promotes cross-racial understanding and dialogue, reduces racial isolation, and helps to break down stereotypes. This is critical for the future of our country because racially diverse educational environments help to prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse workforce and society. The Department continues to be a strong supporter of diversity, and will continue to be a resource to any college or university that seeks assistance in pursuing diversity in a lawful manner.

  5. 5:10 p.m. ET Harvard president Drew Faust released this response on the SCOTUS ruling Monday.

    We are heartened that the Supreme Court today has affirmed the vital interest of universities in bringing together students from many different backgrounds and points of view. Such diversity enriches the learning experience for all our students, as they live and learn in a community whose collective variety of experiences, interests, and perspectives opens minds, expands horizons, and better prepares students to live and serve in a pluralistic world. As Justice Powell recognized in his landmark Bakke opinion in 1978, cited by the Court today, Harvard has long exemplified a carefully tailored approach to admissions, one in which race or ethnicity may be taken into account as one factor among many in assessing each applicant as an individual, as we aim to shape a student body whose diversity along many dimensions contributes to the education of all. We will continue working to achieve the essential educational benefits of diversity in ways that honor both the principles of law and the values of inclusion and opportunity central to the ideals of the university.

  6. 3:55 p.m. ET From the CATO Institute:
  7. 2:50 p.m. ET The Atlantic's Garrett Epps described Justice Samuel Alito's "silent" facial expressions during this morning's opinions:

    After both opinions had been read, Ginsburg read aloud a summary of her joint dissent in the two cases.  She critiqued the Vance opinion by laying out a "hypothetical" (clearly drawn from a real case) in which a female worker on a road crew is subjected to humiliations by the "lead worker," who directs the crew's daily operation but cannot fire or demote those working with him. TheVance opinion, she suggested, would leave the female worker without a remedy. At this point, Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head "no." He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand.
  8. 2:30 p.m. ET At a press conference hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington Monday, Abigail Fisher, the plaintiff in the case, spoke on the 7-to-1 decision to send the case back to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for further review.

    "I'm grateful to the justices for moving closer to a day when race is not a factor," Fisher said. "Of course we're happy, they gave us everything that they asked for. We're very confident that UT won't be able to use race in the future, and very grateful for the experience."

  9. 2:09 p.m. ET University of Texas at Austin president Bill Powers issued this statement shortly after the affirmative action ruling this morning:

    This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, in which the plaintiff challenged any consideration of race in the admissions process. The University’s policy considers race as one among many factors in a holistic review of applicants who are not admitted automatically by the state’s Top 10 Percent Law. 

    Today, the Court vacated and remanded the Fisher case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, finding that the lower court had not applied a strict enough standard when it found in favor of the University. It is important to note that the Court did not prohibit the use of race in admissions, as the current law permits. Today’s ruling has no impact on admissions decisions we have already made or any immediate impact on our holistic admissions policy.

    For many years, The University of Texas at Austin has been a leading advocate for diversity in higher education. As we argued before the Court, we believe a diverse student body is critical to the education of all students. It creates a rich learning environment that prepares young people for life in an increasingly global society. Because we remain convinced of this truth, and because diversity is critical to our becoming America’s best public university, we will continue to defend our policy. 

    Thank you for all the ways you support our core purpose of transforming lives for the benefit of society.
  10. 12:34 p.m. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked one question on the SCOTUS decisions in his press briefing today

    "On affirmative action, this is an ongoing case. I think that was the decision made by the court today so i don't have further comment on it," he said. "You've seen what we've said about it, you've seen the brief that we filed to that case and you can find, our, you know, our position on it. But i have no further comment on the decision by the Supreme Court to send it back to the lower courts today." 

  11. 12:09 p.m. ET Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, posted this reaction on his Facebook page:
  12. 12:00 p.m. ET Bobby Blanchard is a junior at UT Austin and the online news editor for the university paper, The Daily Texan.
  13. 11:56 a.m ET Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is a Democrat representing Texas' 18th congressional district.
  14. 11:30 a.m. ET Molly Ball is a politics writer for The Atlantic.