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Sandra Day O'Connor

Racial diversity: a worthwhile goal

Racial diversity: a worthwhile goal

While the Supreme Court has recently placed stringent limits on institutions of higher education that voluntarily implement affirmative action programs, the window of constitutional permissibility has never been completely closed. That could change, however, if the court sides with the plaintiff in Fisher V. University of Texas, a case argued Wednesday urging the justices to declare, once and forever, that affirmative action is unconstitutional.

Fairness has been a central theme of litigants challenging affirmative action programs. White applicants denied admission have argued that they have been victimized by plans that give their places to lesser "qualified" minority...