The Supreme Court has twice backed up the idea that colleges can take race into account in college admissions, but the third time might not be the charm for supporters of affirmative action. The court today agreed to hear a major case brought by a white student against the University of Texas; she says she was denied admission because of her race. Abigail Fisher also says her grades were better than those of many of the minority students admitted.
The case doesn't bode well for the principle of affirmative action because—as the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post all point out—the court is more conservative than it was the last time the issue came up, in 2003. Specifically, the author of that 5-4 decision, Sandra Day O'Connor, has been replaced by the more conservative Samuel Alito. What's more, Elena Kagan has recused herself from the new case. Arguments will begin in October, just ahead of the presidential election.