The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that citizens can legally nix affirmative action at the ballot box, thus upholding Michigan's voter-approved referendum banning the practice in college admissions.
By a vote of 6-2 (Justic Elena Kagan was recused), the court ruled that voters can alter their state constitutions to end affirmative action, as Michigan did via referendum in 2006. The court stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutional merits of affirmative action itself, but rather solely on the power of citizens to rewrite their state laws through the proper legal channels.
Here's the relevant bit, from Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion:
This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this Court's precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters. Deliberative debate on sensitive issues such as racial preferences all too often may shade into rancor. But that does not justify removing certain court-determined issues from the voters' reach. Democracy does not presume that some subjects are either too divisive or too profound for public debate. [Supreme Court]
The case arose after the high court in 2003 ruled that Michigan's affirmative action program was constitutional. Following that ruling, affirmative action opponents launched a successful referendum to amend the state constitution to ban it statewide in higher education. Jon Terbush
Saturday would've marked Babe Ruth's 121st birthday. To honor The Great Bambino, relive the glory of his first-ever New York Times profile. It's from way back in 1915, and it has some real gems:
— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) February 6, 2016
The paper of record described the soon-to-be record-setting slugger as "peculiar" and being "built like a bale of cotton."
"What the Yanks evidently need are some peculiar left-handed pitchers," the profile went onto say, to counter Ruth, who then pitched for the rival Boston Red Sox.
Either that, or perhaps they just needed to make the trade of the century. Julie Kliegman
As the Syrian government works to cut off Aleppo's rebel supply route from Turkey, foreign intervention is not welcome, Foreign Minister Walid-al-Moallem warned Saturday, The Associated Press reports.
"Any ground intervention in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," he said. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."
Saudi Arabia recently said it would send troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State extremists, who control parts of Syria. The United Nations suspended peace talks Wednesday as conflict near Aleppo ramped up. Julie Kliegman
At least 13 people died and hundreds more were injured in a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Taiwan on Saturday, The Associated Press reports.
Rescuers saved hundreds of people from buildings and were still trying to reach others. Dozens of people are reportedly unaccounted for, CNN reports.
The high-rise residential building that collapsed in the 4 a.m. quake included a care center for newborn babies. One 10-day-old baby was reportedly among the dead. Julie Kliegman
On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. But aside from the snacks and the commercials that star puppies, I'm pretty lukewarm about the spectacle.
And then I go and find a photo like this, from the very first Super Bowl in 1967, when the Green Bay Packers trounced the Kansas City Chiefs, and I lament my indifference to the sport.
Just look at their utter jubilation! The man in the middle, who's wearing what looks to be an ascot (imagine a time when football fans wore ties and ascots to the game!), waving his arms around like he just don't care, is having a near-religious experience. It's inspiring and I'm jealous. Lauren Hansen
Only in America: Lawmaker refuses to back LGBT civil rights protections because similar laws don't exist for obese people
An Indiana lawmaker is refusing to back civil rights protections for gays and lesbians because there are no similar laws protecting "fat white people." State Rep. Woody Burton called homosexuality "a behavioral thing," like overeating, and argued, "If I pass a law that says transgenders and homosexuals are covered under the civil rights laws, does it say anywhere that fat white people are covered?"
Twitter revealed Friday that it has deleted 125,000 accounts threatening or promoting terrorism since mid-2015, CNBC reports. The Brookings Institution estimated last year that there were at least 46,000 such accounts in existence; Twitter's numbers indicate that ISIS and other terrorist groups have either upped their presence on social media, or Twitter has become better at targeting terrorist accounts.
Spam-fighting technology flags posts by potential terrorists, which are then reviewed by humans, The Associated Press reports. Prior to Friday, Twitter had not revealed the scale to which terrorists were active on Twitter. Jeva Lange
At the price it sells for, this little chocolate ball "better cure PMS, heartbreak, and file our income taxes," said Dominique Haikel at E! Online. For years now, La Madeline au Truffle ($250) from Connecticut-based chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt has reigned as the most extravagant confection in the world. Each one is made to order to get the most of its seven-day shelf life. Dark chocolate dusted in cocoa powder encases a rare mushroom — a Périgord truffle — that's been smothered in a chocolate ganache infused with truffle oil. The whole thing weighs just 1.9 oz, but comes resting on a bed of sugar pearls in a pretty silver box.