I wrote yesterday that the U.S. Supreme Court had punted on its recent affirmative action ruling, leaving key issues unanswered and passing the buck back to the appellate court with only narrowly construed legal guidelines to reconsider the case. That assessment (and the football metaphor) has been widely shared.

However, advocates and defenders of affirmative action are now voicing concerns that the court’s demands on the appellate court have so significantly narrowed the grounds for considering race in college admissions that it will likely undermine race-based affirmative action more than initially thought. As Scott Greytak, a lawyer, supporter of affirmative action, and author of West’s Education Law Reporter, said in an Inside Higher Ed report, “This is a very quiet death sentence for affirmative action that is race-conscious.”

If that’s the case, then the Supreme Court may have just kicked a very high, long, and unreturnable punt that effectively pins the affirmative action team deep against its own end zone. That would be worth cheering about. Go team!

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