Supreme Court Laments How Little It Really Knows About Race-Conscious Admissions

The Supreme Court’s proceedings resembled a debate over educational research more than a fight over constitutional principles as the justices heard oral arguments on Wednesday in achallenge to race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas at Austin.

Several justices voiced frustration with how little new information they had before them since they had previously heard the case, two years ago. The last time around, they hadordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to give the Texas policy more scrutiny, to ensure that the university was not giving applicants’ race more weight than necessary. Yet both sides in the dispute are still sparring over questions related to the policy’s impact.

"We’re just arguing the same case. It’s as if nothing had happened," complained Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the opinion of the 7-to-1 majority the last time the court heard the case, and is regarded as a potential swing vote this time around.

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