Supreme Court upholds use of race in university’s college admissions

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — The University of Texas admissions program that takes account of race has survived another round at the Supreme Court.

The justices on Thursday upheld the Texas program by a 4-3 vote.

The university considers race among many factors in admitting the last quarter of incoming freshmen classes. Texas fills most of the freshman class by guaranteeing admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school class.

The court has also ruled on two additional issues:

Drunk Driving

The Supreme Court has placed new limits on state laws that make it a crime for motorists suspected of drunken driving to refuse alcohol tests.

Justices ruled Thursday that police need a search warrant before requiring drivers to take blood alcohol tests. But the court declined to require a warrant for breath tests, which it considers less intrusive.

The ruling came in three cases where drivers challenged so-called implied consent laws in Minnesota and North Dakota as violating the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure. State supreme courts in each state had upheld the laws.

Drivers in all 50 states can have their licenses revoked for refusing drunken driving tests. The court’s ruling affects laws in eleven states that impose additional criminal penalties for such refusals.

Prison terms for repeat offenders

The Supreme Court is making it tougher for federal prosecutors to seek longer prison terms for people convicted of repeated violent crimes.

The justices ruled 5-3 Thursday that lower courts are limited in how they can consider prior state crimes for purposes of increasing sentences under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act.

The court sided with Richard Mathis, who pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge. He received a 15-year sentence – five more than he otherwise would have gotten – because of prior state convictions for burglary.

Mathis argued that Iowa burglary laws are broader than federal ones. But a federal appeals court said it could look beyond the elements of the state law to see whether Mathis’ conduct would have violated federal burglary law.

The Supreme Court disagreed.

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