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Affirmative Action's Future Is Again In Question26:30

This article is more than 7 years old.

When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed last month to hear a major case on race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas, it raised the possibility of a seismic shift in American higher education: the end of affirmative action.

Both proponents and critics of affirmative action say it's possible — especially given the conservative shift of the court since 2003. That's the last time the High Court ruled that colleges and universities could take race into account to ensure academic diversity.

In that decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, then-Justice Sandra Day O'Conner cast the critical swing vote. She has since retired, replaced by the more conservative Samuel Alito. And Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed skepticism about "racial balancing."

So are these the final days of affirmative action in college admissions? And if so, what would be lost or what might be gained? And if the court stops short of doing away away with affirmative action altogether, what other routes might it take?


  • Peter Schmidt, senior writer, Chronicle of Higher Education; author, "Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning The War Over College Affirmative Action."

This segment aired on March 1, 2012.

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