(Washington D.C., June 23, 2016)—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in two separate cases involving the state of Texas—one concerning affirmative action in university admissions and the other President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs.

In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Court ruled 4-3 to reject a challenge to the University of Texas’s policy of taking race into account as one factor in admissions decisions. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who had never before voted to uphold an affirmative action program, said that “the University of Texas at Austin has a special opportunity to learn and to teach” others about how to achieve racial inclusiveness.  In United States v. Texas, the Court deadlocked, leaving in place a lower court decision blocking humane and sensible immigration policies adopted by President Obama. The programs at issue in that case—which provide relief from deportation and work permits for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria—would have benefitted millions of families, including many LGBTQ people.

Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq:

“The Court’s recognition that universities—and by extension, our entire society—have a compelling interest in racial inclusivity is encouraging and casts a welcome ray of hope that future cases may continue to recognize the urgent need for policies that promote racial inclusivity in workplaces and schools. In stark contrast, today’s split in United States v. Texas leaves in place the Fifth Circuit’s devastating hold on the DAPA and DACA programs. The Supreme Court’s inaction puts millions of immigrants’ lives in legal limbo and will harm millions of children and families. The Supreme Court’s failure to resolve this critical question underscores the need for a fully-staffed Supreme Court that can resolve the most important legal issues facing our country. The Senate’s inexcusable failure to act on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court is impeding the work of the Court and the functioning of our democracy.”