The Supreme Court just ruled that Michigan's ban on government affirmative-action was constitutional. The ruling was 6-2. Yes, there are nine Supreme Court Justices, but Elena Kagan had to recuse herself because she was involved with the case while she was Solicitor General.
And yes, there are four "liberal" justices, and one of them sided with the majority to deliver this major blow towards affirmative action. But despite what many will say, today's decision will not "end" affirmative action, in college admissions or otherwise. Nothing is f**ked here, dude. That's probably why one of the liberals was able to hold his nose and side with the majority...
Reason #1: It's Up To The Voters
The Supreme Court didn't rule that affirmative action is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that banning affirmative action is not unconstitutional. That's a key difference instead of just lawyer double-negative, double-speak.
The way the majority saw it, if you ban people from banning affirmative action, you are essentially mandating its use. You're essentially making affirmative action a constitutional requirement, instead of merely making it a constitutional allowance.
So, from a certain point of view, all the Supreme Court did was allow voters to not have these policies in their state if they don't want to. If voters in all 50 states want to ban the use of affirmative action, they certainly have the right to do so under the constitution. But if they want to have affirmative action, they can do that too. That's important. There are conservatives on the Court who certainly want to make affirmative action unconstitutional, but that didn't happen today.
Reason #2: College Admissions Committees Are Smarter Than Voters
Colleges want to use affirmative action because they know that their schools are better educational environments when they have a diverse group of students. Affirmative action is better for white people because learning in a freaking racial echo chamber is no fun.
And so colleges will still practice it, in one form or another. They'll look for cues in the mountain of data they get from every applicant. The problem for the anti-affirmative action crowd is that there is no such thing as a "meritocracy" when it comes to admissions, especially at the best schools. Admissions committees aren't robots who only care about test scores and GPA, nor should they be. Affirmative action bans make race the one factor you can't look at. That's beyond dumb, but there are a host of other factors that will give the intelligent admissions committee the opportunity to diversify their classes.
Reason #3: Private Schools Will Still Be Awesome
Go ahead, vote to end affirmative action at your state schools, nothing will stop the private schools from still taking it into account. It's interesting that this case happens in Michigan, as the University of Michigan is a state school that competes with many private universities. Affirmative action has been banned in Michigan for a while, and admissions committees there hate it. It just makes the top minority students — the minority students with test scores just as good as yours — less likely to go to Michigan. Why would you go to Michigan when you can easily go to Northwestern and enjoy the benefits of a diverse class? When schools like Michigan become "white ghettos," unable to attract top minority students or top white students who want to learn in diverse, culturally rich environments, these bans will look even dumber.
The states that vote against affirmative action (and I predict there will be many who do so now) will just strengthen the comparative advantage of the private schools they compete with.
Today's decision was "bad" for supporters of affirmative action, but the program is going to continue in various forms.
You know why? Because it works. Affirmative action has been wildly successful, both at giving minorities opportunities and for creating a better, more diverse learning environment. Schools aren't going to easily give up something that works so well, even if the Court says that they can.