Black conservatives are lambasting the U.S. Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision on Thursday in Fisher v. University of Texas to uphold race-based admissions standards at the University of Texas at Austin.
“The Court has legalized discrimination,” said Joe Hicks, a civil rights leader representing the Project 21 black leadership network, in a statement sent to The Daily Caller.
Project 21 is a group of conservative and moderate black intellectuals from around the country.
“While voting today for racial preferences, Justice Kennedy (who wrote the majority opinion) scolded the University of Texas, saying the university has a duty to ‘minimize’ its use of race. Good luck on that,” Hicks also said.
Hicks added that many of America’s universities are already enthralled with the notion of diversity for diversity’s sake, and “will now feel emboldened to increase programs that advantage so-called ‘disadvantaged minorities’ while freely discriminating against all who are not.”
“To say that today’s decision is disappointing would be a serious understatement,” Hicks said. “Today, the Court has decided in a way that is nothing less than a blow for equality under the law. It panders to the left/liberal mantra of ‘classroom diversity,’ that even the University of Texas was too embarrassed to make in its SCOTUS arguments.”
Hicks also predicted that any hope of reversing or limiting Thursday’s decision is dismal in light of the 2016 presidential race landscape.
“One presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, is poised to populate the Court with liberal nominees who believe the Constitution is a ‘living document,’ while the other, Donald Trump, appears woefully ignorant about the issues involved” and “is ideologically erratic.”
The decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy held that race-conscious admissions standards at the flagship campus of the University of Texas system are lawful under the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. (RELATED: In Compromise, SCOTUS Upholds Affirmative Action)
The challenge to the University of Texas at Austin admission process was brought way back in 2008 by Abigail Fisher, a white female who failed to get into the University of Texas at Austin. Fisher then filed suit, claiming that the denial of her application was in part related to racial preferences given to minority applicants.
The taxpayer-funded university evaluates applicants using two scales, one which measures grades and test scores, and another which evaluates extracurricular activities, socioeconomic factors and race. The two scores are merged to create a single score, which weighs heavily when an admissions decision is made.
Kennedy’s opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissent, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas.
Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because of her involvement with the case during her tenure as Solicitor General.
The Supreme Court’s ninth justice, Antonin Scalia, died earlier this year.
The case had been heard twice previously by the high court. Both times, the justices made limited rulings and sent the case back to lower federal courts for further review.
Thursday’s ruling was not an unqualified sanctioning of affirmative action programs in higher education. The court said such programs are justified only if a university can demonstrate that other efforts to achieve campus diversity have failed, and that colleges should expect their race-conscious programs to be tested in court.
“It is the University’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admissions policies,” Kennedy wrote.
Justice Alito — in a rare move — read his strident dissent from the bench. “Something strange has happened since our prior decision in this case,” Alito said.