White House wary of new affirmative action Supreme Court case

The White House reacted cautiously to word Tuesday that the Supreme Court will take up an affirmative action case--and may potentially hear arguments on the volatile issue in the waning months of the presidential campaign.

President Barack Obama's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, told reporters at his daily briefing that he would not comment "on the Supreme Court's decision to take up a case, or not take up a case."

It's not uncommon for an administration to beg off when asked about the high court's doings, especially when it is not a party to the case, in order to avoid the appearance that it is improperly putting its thumb on the scales of justice.

But Carney then waded into the issue in general terms, saying, "I think, as the Supreme Court has recognized in the past, diversity in the classroom has learning benefits for students, campuses and schools."

"President Obama has said that, while he opposes quotas, and thinks an emphasis on universal and not race-specific programs is good policy, considering race along with other factors can be appropriate in certain circumstances," Carney said.

"But again, I want to make sure that's viewed as a broad statement of where he has been and where his position is broadly, not a reference to this specific case," he said.

Olivier Knox is the White House correspondent for Yahoo News.

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