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The Supreme Court Upheld Affirmative Action, and Effectively Stopped Obama's Immigration Order

Two important decisions were handed down by the nation's highest court Thursday morning.
June 23, 2016, 3:58pm
Photo of the US Supreme Court via Flickr user ian mcwilliams

On Thursday morning, the US Supreme Court issued two major decisions, one that gave a victory to supporters of affirmative action, and another that resulted in Barack Obama's controversial executive order on immigration being blocked.

The first, in the case Fisher v. University of Texas, the justices held 4–3 (with Elena Kagan recusing herself because she had previously worked on the case) that colleges could indeed consider race when reviewing applicants. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, confirmed that there was a "compelling interest" in maintaining a diverse student body. (The University of Texas at Austin, the school being sued, selects the majority of its students by how well they did in state high schools, and only considers race in some cases.)

Then the court—which has only eight members rather than the usual nine since the Republican-backed Senate refuses to consider Obama's replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia—deadlocked 4–4 on a challenge to Obama's immigration policy. In 2014, the president had issued an executive order allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the US. Many on the right alleged this was an overreach on his part, and a lower court agreed. The Supreme Court's decision simply reads, "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court."

The issued could be reviewed once the court is back to full strength following the 2016 election, however—Hillary Clinton has voiced support of Obama's immigration policy, while Donald Trump has opposed it, and both would be likely to nominate a judge who shares their views.