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News Posted on June 27, 2013

Associate Dean Amar Writes on Supreme Court Affirmative Action Case for Los Angeles Times and SCOTUSblog

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law, published analyses of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Fisher v. University of Texas in the Los Angeles Times and SCOTUSblog. The case concerns a white woman's claim that she was denied admission to the University of Texas as a result of the school's race-conscious admissions policy. On June 24, the Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling that sent the case back to a lower court, leaving in place the potential for schools to continue to consider race as part of their admissions policies.

In an essay published in the Los Angeles Times, Amar examined the attitudes of the Justices with regard to affirmative action programs, focusing on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote for the 7-1 majority.  "Kennedy's stance has been that, although race consciousness is very hard to justify, it is not completely improper, and nothing in Monday's decision departs from that position," Amar writes. "What this means practically is that most universities are still not prohibited from considering race as part of their admissions criteria."

In his SCOTUSblog entry, Amar went into greater detail about the ruling and how the Court may have arrived at its 7-1 consensus.  "While Justice Kennedy reminded lower courts that they cannot perform a strict scrutiny that is ‘feeble in fact,' in reality he did not ratchet up the standard - at least in its verbal formulation - from what it purported to be in prior cases. Strict scrutiny sounds formidable, but its application is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. That is why Justices ranging from Alito to Sotomayor were all willing to join Kennedy's opinion; strict scrutiny that is not applied in a case is really strict scrutiny that is not defined in a case."

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law with the UC Davis School of Law, is a national authority in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal procedure, and remedies. His biweekly column for, a leading provider of online legal information, centers on his expertise in constitutional law.

Los Angeles Times