The Supreme Court in October 2010 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Eight months after attorneys for Abigail Fisher argued in front of the Supreme Court that the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions policy discriminates against white students, the justices still have not handed down their decision in the potentially paradigm-shifting case.
The unusual delay has many court-watchers stumped, though as with everything Supreme Court-related, all explanations for the wait are, at best, educated guesswork.
Lyle Denniston, who has covered the Supreme Court for more than 50 years and now works for the legal website SCOTUSblog, said he couldn't remember another case that had been argued in the fall yet still undecided by mid-June.
"I have absolutely no idea what is holding it up," Denniston said.
One reason why the delay is so surprising: During oral arguments in October, it seemed fairly clear that the four conservative justices would band together with swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy in striking down the use of race as a factor in undergraduate admissions. Kennedy has voted against affirmative action policies in the past and showed no willingness during questioning to reconsider his past position.
Additionally, the four liberal-leaning justices are short Elena Kagan, who had to recuse herself in this case due to her work on it while a part of the Obama administration. That seemed to clear the way for an easy 5-3 decision in favor of Fisher.
"It's really surprising that it's taken this long for the court to issue an opinion," said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA School of Law. "It's almost unheard of for the court to take the entire term to decide what really is a straightforward case."
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