Bush Administration Does Not Challenge Grutter Decision in Briefs for Two K-12 Race-Sensitive Admissions Cases Now Before the Supreme Court

It comes as no surprise that the Bush administration has filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to outlaw the use of race in K-12 school assignments in Seattle and Louisville. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases this fall.

But proponents of affirmative action in higher education feared that the administration would use these cases to push for the Court to overturn the 2003 Grutter and 1978 Bakke rulings now that two new conservative justices have been seated on the nation’s highest bench. But this does not appear to be the case.

In fact, Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, used the Court’s Grutter ruling in his arguments. He wrote that the two school districts were applying a racial quota system that did not meet the narrowly tailored affirmative action guidelines outlined as acceptable under Grutter.

Of course, the Supreme Court could, on its own, use the new cases to overturn Grutter or place new stringent requirements on the use of race in school and higher educational admissions. It is near certain that Justice Samuel Alito is far more conservative on the issue of affirmative action than his predecessor, Sandra Day O’Connor who wrote the majority opinion in Grutter.