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Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in university admissions

The Supreme Court voted 4-3 on Thursday to uphold affirmative action in a case brought against the program at the University of Texas, Austin. In Texas, the law guarantees admission to any student who has graduated in the top 10 percent of his or her high school class. The remaining enrollments go to students who are considered for other factors, such as race, NBC News reports.

The lawsuit, brought by a white student who was denied admission to school, claimed it was not fair to make such a decision based on the vague qualifier of "race." Abigail Fisher argued that the 10 percent program already introduced enough diversity to campus.

The school argued that students learn better in diverse environments, and that the top 10 percent program wasn't a perfect answer. It was backed by organizations such as the NAACP, which claimed that eliminating affirmative action "would set in concrete a caste system in which black and Latino UT students likely would be the products of underfunded and underperforming Texas high schools, while white UT students would likely be derived from better funded and better performing high schools."

Because of the ins-and-outs unique to the Texas case, it is unclear what the wide-reaching effects of the Supreme Court decision will be.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor voted to uphold affirmative action in this case, with John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito dissenting. Elena Kagan recused herself.