Supreme Court Guts Affirmative Action

Happy Friday! The band Fall Out Boy released a cover of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” with lyrics updated for the present. Any list that includes Spongebob alongside Kim Jong Un is bound to be controversial, but we approve—they made sure to mention the Cubs’ World Series win.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggested Thursday back-to-back rate hikes were possible at future Fed meetings after the central bankers declined to raise interest rates in June. “A strong majority of  committee participants expect that it will be appropriate to raise interest rates two or more times by the end of the year,” he said at an event in Spain. On Wednesday, the Fed released the results of its annual bank stress test, which simulates recession scenarios to assess the resilience of financial institutions with more than $250 billion in assets. All 23 banks included in the exercise passed, but midsized lenders—like the failed Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank—weren’t evaluated.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday the Chinese spy balloon that crossed the United States in February used commercially available, U.S.-made technology to surveil Americans. U.S. intelligence agencies have analyzed the debris from the balloon—shot down off the coast of South Carolina—and determined the craft was in fact used for spying, noting the presence of more specialized Chinese equipment in addition to the American tech. It’s unclear whether the balloon was able to transmit information back to China.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Wall Street Journal Thursday he will drop the piece of his controversial judicial reform agenda that would have empowered the Israeli parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions. The original judicial reform plan sparked widespread protests and international criticism earlier this year, prompting Netanyahu to pause the effort. The prime minister plans to now move forward with the revised legislation.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Thursday, becoming the first GOP presidential candidate to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since joining the race. Pence visited several Ukrainian cities, including Bucha, the site of significant civilian deaths at the hands of the Russian army.
  • Canada’s wildfire season—which has seen 20 million acres of land burned in roughly 3,000 fires since the beginning of the year and blanketed U.S. and Canadian cities in a smoky haze—is officially the worst on record. There are currently 483 wildfires burning across Canada, 250 of which are considered out of control. The previous record was set in 1989 with a far larger number of blazes but of much smaller size than this season’s fires. 
  • Hunter Biden settled his Arkansas child support case, according to a court filing released Thursday. The president’s son was ordered in 2020 to pay $20,000 a month in child support for a daughter he initially denied was his, but he reopened the case in an effort to reduce the payments. The filing redacted how much Biden will now pay, but his daughter will receive some of his paintings as part of the agreement.
  • A Florida jury on Thursday acquitted Scot Peterson, the former school resource officer accused of failing to intervene during the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. The jury found him not guilty of seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury.

SCOTUS Rules Against Race-Based College Admissions

Protesters for and against affirmative action demonstrate on Capitol Hill on June 29, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Protesters for and against affirmative action demonstrate on Capitol Hill on June 29, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court tends to save its most controversial rulings of the term for last, and yesterday we finally got the decision we’ve all been waiting for: Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc.

What—you’re not following the extraterritorial trademark infringement showdown of the century? Well then let’s discuss SCOTUS effectively ending affirmative action for college admissions instead.

Combining two similar cases into one, justices were tasked with determining whether the race-based admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Writing for a 6-3 majority split along ideological lines, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that they did, and that giving some students a race-based boost necessarily discriminates against others in the “zero-sum” world of admissions to highly selective colleges and universities.

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