Will SCOTUS Can College Affirmative Action?

Happy Wednesday! We joked recently about a rash of cheating scandals hitting niche sports. Just when we thought we were out of the woods: It seems cheating allegations have divided the professional cornhole community after revelations that players boil, sand, and hammer, or soak  their beanbags in vinegar in pursuit of a lighter, slicker toss.

“I think it’s funny that anyone believed it would be all friendships and rose petals forever in cornhole,” one aficionado commented. “Now the dirty underbelly is being exposed.”

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Saudi Arabia has reportedly shared intelligence with the United States that suggests Iran plans to attack targets in the kingdom and an Iraqi city where U.S. troops are based, putting U.S., Saudi, and neighboring states’ militaries on higher alert. Saudi officials said Iran planned the attacks to distract from internal protests sparked by the September death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman detained for allegedly violating the country’s religious dress code.
  • Prosecutors allege the man who attacked Paul Pelosi in his home last week also planned to target “a local professor, several prominent state and federal politicians, and relatives of those state and federal politicians” and that he told police he planned to hold House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—whom he viewed as the “leader of the pack” of the Democratic Party—hostage and break her kneecaps if she “lied” to him. The attacker on Tuesday pled not guilty to state charges including attempted murder and is being held without bail ahead of trial. He also faces federal charges, including assault and attempted kidnapping. U.S. Capitol Police reportedly have surveillance video of the invasion of Pelosi’s home, but didn’t notice the break in among the department’s 1,800 monitoring cameras until an officer spotted police lights flashing in a video feed.
  • Outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro did not concede in his first speech since losing a runoff election to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday, but he didn’t contest the election results either—and his chief of staff Ciro Nogueira said he was authorized to work with Lula’s transition team. Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting the results, and Brazil’s highway police said Tuesday demonstrators had blocked roads in 267 locations.
  • Pfizer announced Tuesday that, in a clinical trial, its vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)—which kills 100 to 300 children in the United States each year and hospitalizes nearly 60,000—was 69 percent effective at preventing severe RSV cases in babies under six months old. The shot is delivered to women during pregnancy, ensuring newborns have antibodies upon birth. Pfizer will seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and—if that approval is granted—the vaccine could be on the market as soon as next fall.
  • With about 84 percent of the vote counted Wednesday morning, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing alliance appeared likely to win a narrow majority in Israel’s fifth election in less than four years, which saw the highest voter turnout in decades. Exit polls also showed the extreme right-wing Religious Zionism/Otzma Yehudit party—known for harsh stances against Israeli-Arabs—winning as many as 15 seats, which would give the once-fringe party a powerful role in a Netanyahu-led governing coalition.
  • Despite the Federal Reserve’s best efforts, the U.S. labor market remained tight last month, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting Tuesday there were 10.7 million job openings in the United States at the end of September—up from 10.3 million one month earlier. The quits rate—the percentage of workers who quit their job during the month—held steady at 2.7 percent month-over-month, and the number of layoffs and discharges ticked down slightly from 1.5 million to 1.3 million.
  • The University of Florida’s trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday to select Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska as the school’s next president despite pushback from some students and faculty over his politics. The Republican senator previously ran a small Christian university in Nebraska and taught at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s expected to accept the job and resign from the Senate in December, subject to approval from the university’s board of governors. Under Nebraska law, the state’s governor will appoint a replacement for Sasse, and a special election will fill the seat in 2024.

Affirmative Action on the Ropes

The facade of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo by Liu Jie / Xinhua via Getty Images)

When the Supreme Court weighed in on the use of affirmative action at University of Michigan Law School back in 2003, it narrowly held that the practice could continue “to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” But writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor seemed to put an expiration date on the ruling: “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”

She may have been off by five years.

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