Affirmative action survived a verdict by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court raised the burden that must be met in order to use race as a factor in college admissionsbut it also kept intact the logic that there are situations in which race may be taken into account.
However, the latter does not seem to apply to the University of Texasone of the litigantssince a large majority of the justices voted to remand the case to the appeals court for it to reconsider its decision, which sided with the university.
Nevertheless, the court did not make the decision that many feared, which could have ended a program that has shown a major positive impact in diversifying the college student population.
When Proposition 209 was approved in California 17 years ago, the number of Latinos and African-Americans in college campuses dropped, and we still have not returned to enrollment levels that existed before the ballot initiative.
The benefits of affirmative action are apparent in both the military and the private sector. Therefore, the support that major corporations gave the University of Texas in this case is not surprising.
The justices did the right thing in avoiding the issue of constitutionality and in not eliminating affirmative actionlike Justice Clarence Thomas would have wanted, according to his opinion on this case.
At any rate, the controversy and lawsuits about this type of programs will continue. In 2003, when the Supreme Court heard the latest case of this kind, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in the decision that the use of racial preferences would continue to be necessary for the next 25 years. We know that this decision still stands after 10 years, with a more conservative court. And that is good news.