Massachusetts State House.
Policy Library

One Week, Two Supreme Court Decisions and a Legislative Victory

June 27, 2013

We cheered affirmative action on Monday and by Thursday we were celebrating marriage equality, and, on a less dramatic note, also the fact that the Uniform Commercial Code had passed the Massachusetts Senate.

• On Monday the Supreme Court, in a 7-1 ruling, remanded the University of Texas’ affirmative action admission case Fisher v. University of Texas et al. back to the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Fifth Circuit for further review.  By remanding the case for further proceedings, the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to reconsider the case applying strict scrutiny.

The Supreme Court did not go as far as declaring affirmatively that the use of race in admissions by the University of Texas is permissible, and the debates over affirmative action in higher education are far from over.

Last summer, we worked to put together a coalition to join us on the BBA’s amicus brief in Fisher.  That brief was consistent with the BBA’s long-standing position that race-conscious admissions policies are vital to diversifying the legal profession, and that not having such policies would harm the continued integration of the profession.

• Yesterday we celebrated the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The Supreme Court decision affirms that all married couples deserve equal treatment from the federal government.

In Massachusetts, our Supreme Judicial Court got it right with Goodridge in 2003.  While we became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, there is still a lot of work ahead before marriage equality is recognized everywhere in the United States.

• In the Massachusetts Senate yesterday there was a spirited debate of sorts on the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).  Senator Tarr called the UCC both long awaited and worthy of summer beach reading.  Senator Candaras explained the amendments to the UCC and said it was good for economic development.  Senator Creem, tongue-in-cheek, said the UCC was a topic in which she tried to interest her constituents at political events.  Soon, she realized that her audience was asleep and it wouldn’t get her re-elected.   Humor aside, we are delighted that the Senate passed the bill yesterday and we await action by the governor.

– Kathleen Joyce
Director of Government Relations
Boston Bar Association