DENVER -- It will soon be tougher to use race in college admissions as a way to guarantee diversity on campus.
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday stopped short of getting rid of affirmative action. But justices sent a clear message: race-conscious admissions policies will face tougher scrutiny.
They threw the case back to the lower courts for further review.
For students on campuses like Metro State University of Denver, getting into the school under affirmative action will see little change. "What's newsworthy is that the court declined to issue the ruling that was possible which is no affirmative action period,” says University of Colorado Law Professor Scott Moss.
The original idea 50 years ago was to prevent schools from discriminating against race or religion in accepting students. It evolved into a way to ensure more student diversity.
"The court has been saying consistently from 2003 to present ‘we will allow some consideration of race but no more than necessary,’” Moss says.
The case involved a white University of Texas student who claimed she was the victim of reverse discrimination. "As a minority I know it works a lot in my favor and it can work against a lot of people's favors and vice versa if you are not a minority,” says Metro State student Jessica Macotela.
The high court ruled that schools must use "strict scrutiny" in the way they consider race for admission, but they cannot set quotas. "You should accept people based on their qualifications outside of their race. I don't really think it should matter what your race is,” says Metro State student Alyssa Dekruif.
But supporters say it gives disadvantaged minorities a better shot at success.
"All they need is an opportunity in themselves to gain that knowledge in order to change the world so I believe that this affirmative action plan is yes, great, and it should be continued,” says student Joshua Berry.
"I've never had to worry about discrimination and so I don't really have that sense of having to worry about it,” student Michael Roberts says. “I just know in a perfect world discrimination and affirmative action wouldn't exist.”
But until the playing field is leveled for all students the court is saying this is not a perfect world.