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iStock/Thinkstock(LAKE ISABELLA, Calif.) -- Firefighters in central California are struggling to contain a devastating fire of "epic proportions" that's killed two people, according to Kern County Fire.

The Erskine fire, which began Thursday afternoon, continued to spread Saturday across the Lake Isabella area of Kern County. It's affected more than 19,000 acres.

California Gov. Edmund Grown declared a state of emergency for Kern County.

“Anne and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to everyone impacted by this destructive blaze,” said Brown said in a statement. “We join all Californians in expressing our gratitude to the courageous firefighters, emergency personnel and volunteers working tirelessly throughout Kern County to help residents and extinguish this fire.”

As of Saturday morning, about 100 structures were lost and 1,500 more were threatened.

The cause of the fire is not known, Tyler Townsend of Erskine Creek Fire said this morning.

There are 600 firefighters battling the blaze with several hundred more expected to arrive on scene.

Officials have called it a "firefight of epic proportions."

With wind gusts over 20 miles per hour, the fire covered 11 miles in 13 hours.

"I've been a firefighter for nine years," Townsend said during a Facebook Live broadcast Thursday. "This is definitely the most destructive fire I've ever been to."

"This fire's driven by winds, steep terrain," he continued. "We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can."

Evacuations are in place for some neighborhoods and the Kern Valley hospital has also been evacuated. There was a great sense of urgency as many homes in the area have propane tanks and some could be seen exploding in Townsend's video.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — At least 23 people have died from devastating flooding and historic rainfall in West Virginia, according to the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has called the flooding "among the worst in a century" for some parts of the state.

The body of a child who was swept away in fast-moving floodwaters was found this morning, about a mile from where he was last seen in Jackson County Thursday, the Ravenswood Fire Department said.

 

A view of a home in Clendenin from I-79 pic.twitter.com/LTFQnDm0nQ

— Spencer Daily (@Spencer_Daily) June 24, 2016

 

Initial reports showed 100 homes were seriously damaged or destroyed, Tomblin said.

But amid the tragedies were stories of heroic actions, Tomblin said: police rescued a woman trapped in her car with water rising to her neck, and some people risked their lives to rescue others who were stranded on rooftops and in rivers.

A state of emergency was declared in 44 of the state's 55 counties.

Some 200 National Guard members were helping Friday in eight counties, Tomblin said.

 

Route 119 (Robinson Run Road), Roane Co. pic.twitter.com/wxQTBi2dVD

— Spencer Daily (@Spencer_Daily) June 24, 2016

 

Rescue efforts were also underway Friday to save hundreds of people who became stranded inside a West Virginia mall overnight after a bridge connecting the shopping center to a main road collapsed and washed away, officials told ABC News.

About 500 people, including employees and customers, became got stuck inside the Crossings Mall in Elkview, about 12 miles from Charleston, around 4 p.m. Thursday, said Rick McElhaney, assistant deputy director with Metro 911 in Kanawha County.

First responders walked some people from the mall around to a back road to board public transportation, an official with the Kanawha County Emergency Operations Center told ABC News Friday morning.

"I have a farm, I have got to get home," one woman said while walking down a steep hill behind the mall.

Crews were also working Friday to build a gravel road to get people out. But some people stayed at the mall because their homes were flooded.

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iStock/Thinkstock(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A Georgia couple visiting Florida was struck by lightning while wading in ankle-deep water off Daytona Beach on Friday just before 5 p.m.

Capt. Tamra Marris, of Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue, told ABC News that an adult male and female were taken unconscious from the beach and transported to a local hospital. The male victim woke up while being transported to the hospital, while the female regained consciousness later, Capt. Marris said.

A third victim reported feeling a tingle in the water but walked back to a nearby hotel and was attended to by emergency crews.

Multiple witnesses at the scene around the Hyatt Daytona Beach Shores hotel called 911 after seeing the lightning strike. It was unclear if the lightning struck the couple directly, or the water nearby.

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ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Orange County Sheriff's deputies who responded to the scene at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando the night a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 more recounted the "chaotic" scene they witnessed as they tended to the wounded and tried to bring patrons to safety, according to incident reports recently released to the public.

As deputies -- who assisted with evacuations and held a perimeter until Orlando PD SWAT arrive -- got to the scene in the early morning hours of June 12, they were told that it was an "active shooter" situation and that there were "multiple victims" in the area who were "seriously injured with gunshot wounds," according to the report.

As soon as one deputy approached the scene, the first thing he saw was EMS tending to victims.

"The scene was chaotic as many of the victims had gunshot wounds and some who had been carried over appeared to be dead," the officer wrote in the incident report.

The officer was tasked with crowd control, he said, as several of the victims and witnesses were "hysterical." Victims who were fatally and critically wounded were being placed behind a nearby bagel shop and the wounded who were able to walk were placed in the parking lot.

A deputy who was positioned on the south entrance of the club saw three to four deceased victims in the parking lot, as well as several people exiting the building, the report said. When he saw a woman who was shot, he assisted an Orlando Police Department officer in moving her away from the building, he said. He then saw a second woman who had been shot and attempted to ask her about what she witnessed, but she did not have any information to provide, the officer reported. He then heard "numerous sounds of gunfire" inside.

While taking cover on the east side of the building just outside of the patio, one deputy described covering the other officers as they extracted injured victims from inside the club.

Another deputy described hearing shots fired as he approached the club on foot and seeing people covered in blood running out of the building and several more in the parking lot who suffered from gunshot wounds. That officer assisted in carrying the injured people to vehicles to be taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, the report stated.

A deputy who helped carry a man who appeared to have gunshot wounds to his right forearm and left shin remembered exactly what he was wearing: a black T-shirt and blue jeans. The officer then responded to the hospital after reports of shots fired there. When he arrived, he was advised by security that shots hadn't been fired and he positioned himself in the emergency room to assist with the hospital's lockdown protocol.

First responders have been grappling with the emotional toll of witnessing the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in recent American history.

"It was like a war scene," EMT Julio Salgado told ABC News earlier. "It was load and go. Just get them out of there."

Some officers have been hailed as heroes for rescuing wounded patrons as shots continued to ring out.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to ISIS during a call to authorities as the massacre was going on.

Officials have called the shooting an act of terrorism and a hate crime.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is set to end the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military in July, according to Defense official.

One official says the lifting of the ban could be announced by Defense Secretary Ash Carter as soon as July 1, though final details remain to be worked out, which could delay the announcement.

Defense officials confirm that there will be a meeting Monday involving top personnel officers from all of the military services to discuss the transgender ban.

According to one of the officials, lifting the ban will be followed by a one-year implementation plan to address housing and personnel issues that would be required.

Last July, Carter announced lifting the ban and formed a task force to review how that would occur. He directed the task force to work under the assumption that the ban would be lifted.

The task force's assessment continued beyond the original six-month deadline and recommendations were not presented until February.

It is unclear how many transgender people might be serving in the military, but one study by UCLA estimated there could be as many as 15,000 among the 1.3 million active duty force.

"Our transgender service members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief," said Ashley Broadway-Mack, President of the American Military Partner Association, in a statement issued Friday following a USA Today story that broke the news of the pending announcement.

"Soon, anyone who is qualified will finally be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. We are eagerly anticipating the details of this historic announcement, and we are incredibly grateful for the leadership Secretary Carter has shown in getting us to this critically important point for our military families."

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iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Dozens suffered burn injuries Thursday night in Texas after walking across hot coals as part of a self-help program put on by celebrity motivational speaker Tony Robbins, according to Dallas authorities.

"Unleash the Power Within," a three-and-a-half-day event with Robbins held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, promised to help participants "achieve your goals and improve the quality of your life," according to Robbins' website.

One method of self-improvement on the schedule for Thursday evening was to "storm across a bed of hot coals" in order to "overcome the unconscious fears that are holding you back," the website stated. "Once you start doing what you thought was impossible, you’ll conquer the other fires of your life with ease." The event schedule has since been removed from the website.

At least five people ended up hospitalized, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR).

In total, approximately 30 to 40 people were evaluated at the convention center for minor burn injuries and as many as five rescue units and two EMS supervisors were assigned to help manage the situation, Jason Evans, a spokesman for the DFR, said in a statement.

"Apparently, as part of a motivational event being held at the location, several people attempted to walk across hot coals. As a result, a large number of these people sustained burn injuries to their feet and lower extremities," Evans said in a statement.

"This is not something I can personally recall having seen before," Evans told ABC News Friday.

In a statement, Robbins' spokeswoman Jennifer Connelly told ABC News Friday: "At an Unleash the Power Within seminar in Dallas, seven thousand attendees successfully participated in a fire walk which has been a celebrated part of this event for 35 years. It is always the goal to have no guests with any discomfort afterwards but it’s not uncommon to have fewer than 1% of participants experience 'hot spots' which is similar to a sunburn which can be treated with aloe. As always there were trained medical and event staff at the fire walk specifically to offer quick and easy remedies for any soreness.

"Someone unfamiliar with the process of the fire walk called 911 reporting the need for emergency services vehicles to be dispatched. While there was no need for emergency personnel we are grateful to the quick and robust response from Dallas emergency services, only 5 of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site. We are pleased to have completed another successful fire walk for 7,000 guests and look forward to the remainder of an outstanding weekend with them."

Tad Schinke, a trainer at yesterday's event, told local ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV, "We always have a few people that have some discomfort afterwards and we do our best to take care of them."

Jacqueline Luxemberg, a participant, told WFAA-TV that many people took selfies and pictures while storming across the bed of hot coals. She speculated that that may have been why so many suffered burns.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court’s 4-4 split left in place a lower court’s opinion that blocks President’s Obama’s executive action on immigration from going into effect, at least for now.

The president called Thursday’s court decision “heartbreaking.”

What Happens Now: Status Quo?

Obama made it clear that people who have been in the country for a long time and are otherwise law-abiding people, despite being here illegally, will remain lower deportation priorities, saying, “What we don't do is to prioritize people who have been here a long time who are otherwise law-abiding, who have roots and connections in their communities.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued a statement reassuring people that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy will not change: “This court ruling does not affect the existing DACA policy, which was not challenged. Eligible individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grants or renewals of DACA, pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012.”

Johnson also committed to keeping families together.

“We are expanding policies designed to help family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents stay together when removal would result in extreme hardship,” he said.

Background

This case involved the administration’s 2014 announcement that it intended to grant “deferred action” -- essentially, temporary relief from the threat of deportation -- to millions of people living in the United States without legal status. The program would have mainly applied to parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. (That’s why it’s commonly known as “DAPA” -- “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.”)

But the announcement also expanded an earlier deferred-action initiative that applies to people who came to the United States as children (that one is referred to as “DACA” or “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”).

The administration argued that recipients of “deferred action” don’t receive lawful immigration status; they’re just notified that they’re not a deportation priority, so they can, in the administration’s words, “come out of the shadows,” and do things like apply for work authorization. Most estimates place the number of potentially affected individuals at four million or more.

The Challenge

Texas and 25 other states claimed that the plan conflicts with the existing immigration statutes, unilaterally granting legal status to individuals who are here unlawfully under existing immigration law; they also argue that the administration should have announced the new policy through a formal “notice-and-comment” rulemaking process. They argue that the plan is unconstitutional; that by crafting this plan the president has failed to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

How the Obama Administration Responded

The administration responded, first, that Texas had no right to be in court attacking this policy in the first place. It also argued that the plan was well within the discretion Congress has granted the executive branch to set immigration priorities, and that the administration was just deciding how best to use its limited enforcement resources; that it was entitled to use the processes it did to announce the program; and that it was plainly constitutional.

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WPVI-TV(PHILADELPHIA) -- A uniformed police officer was shot three times while investigating illegal drug activity near Philadelphia Friday morning, according to the area's fire company.

The shooting happened in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, about 13 miles south of Philadelphia.

The officer, whose identity was not released, was hospitalized at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, according to the volunteer fire company in Folcroft. The officer's condition was not immediately clear.

It was unclear whether a suspect was in custody; police activity is ongoing in the area.

Amtrak has stopped trains in the area as police investigate.

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Monika Graff/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With this weekend marking the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on legalizing gay marriage, President Obama will designate the Stonewall Inn in New York City as a new National Monument, the first official National Park Service monument dedicated to the plight of LGBT Americans.

The protected area will include Christopher Park across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, which has long served as a landmark for the LGBT community. The inn, a popular gay bar, continues to serve as a gathering place for demonstrations. The Stonewall riots in 1969 marked a major turning point in the fight for gay rights.

The monument commemorates the protests and riots on June 28, 1969, when the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn seeking to crack down on a law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to homosexuals. The riots were seen as an inflection point in the LGBT community as protests spread to cities across the country.

"Today’s designation follows years of strong support from local officials, organizations, members of Congress and citizens in New York City and across the country," the White House said in a press release.

Along with the announcement, the White House is releasing a video reviewing the historical significance of Stonewall with narration from the president. The video will play on the billboards in Times Square Saturday at noon during the city's Pride festival.

 

The announcement from the White House also includes a reference to the Pulse gay nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida on June 12.

“Although the LGBT civil rights movement has made significant progress in the pursuit of equal rights and protections under the law, there is still more work to do," according to the release. "As seen two weeks ago in Orlando, FL, LGBT Americans continue to face acts of violence, discrimination, and hate. LGBT people of color are especially at risk. The Administration is committed to continuing the fight for dignity, acceptance and equal rights for all Americans -- no matter who they are or who they love.”

The announcement is being framed as a culmination of the eight years of the Obama administration's policy promoting LGBT rights. After the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage one year ago, the White House celebrated by lighting up the entrance that faces Pennsylvania Avenue in rainbow colors.

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Facebook/Amanda Carper(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- Dramatic video shows a burning building getting swept away in fast-moving flood waters in West Virginia during flooding that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called "among the worst in a century for some parts of the state."

The footage shows shocked residents watching the building float by as the fire sends smoke into the air.

Four deaths have been reported from flooding in the state, three in Kanawha County and one in Ohio County, according to Tim Rock at the West Virginia Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. A toddler was also swept away in Jackson County, said Rock.

The video was taken in the town of White Sulphur Springs, in Greenbrier County. Officials in the county could not immediately be reached for comment.

A state of emergency has been declared in 44 of West Virginia's 55 counties.

"I have authorized the deployment of up to 150 members of the West Virginia National Guard to assist local emergency responders as we continue to evaluate the situation," Gov. Tomblin said Friday.

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SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The Florida assistant state attorney who was suspended last Friday after writing a Facebook post that denigrated the city of Orlando following the Pulse nightclub terror attack has been fired, the state attorney's office announced Thursday.

"Downtown Orlando has no bottom," assistant state attorney Kenneth Lewis wrote on his Facebook page June 12 -- less than 24 hours after the tragedy -- according to ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV. "The entire city should be leveled. It is void of any redeeming quality...It is void of culture. If you live down there you do it at your own risk and at your own peril." The post continued to paint Orlando and its residents in a negative light.

At the time of his suspension, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office, Angela Starke, said Lewis' post violated its social media policy. The spokeswomen said then, "Mr. Lewis violated the SAO9 social media policy. The social media policy was adopted and implemented on February 20, 2015, as part of SAO9’s code of conduct. Every employee is required to sign the policy. Failure to comply can result in discipline up to and including termination."

And that's exactly what happened: A letter written Thursday by state attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton announced Lewis' termination.

Ashton wrote, "Whether you intended to convey that all those who attend nightclubs are animals (the zoo reference) or whether the reference to 'debauchery' was meant to express some objection to the lifestyle choices of those who attended this club, we will never know. I cannot believe that a man of your intelligence would not realize that your comment could bear that interpretation."

Ashton continued, "I can no longer defend you as a prosecutor free of bias. Therefore the recommendation of termination is also upheld. You shall remain on suspension until June 30, 2016 at which time your employment with this office will be terminated."

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Kern County Fire Department(BAKERSFIELD, Calif.) — A fast-moving wildfire in central California has destroyed several dozen homes and forced hundreds of evacuations in rural communities in Kern County Thursday.

Dubbed the Erskine Fire, the blaze quickly exploded in size since it began around 4 p.m., spreading to more than 4,000 acres as it was fueled by intense heat in the upper 90s, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Officials say the fire is at 0 percent containment and so far no injuries have been reported.

"I've been a firefighter for 9 years. This is definitely the most destructive fire I've ever been to," Caption Tyler Townsend with the Kern County Fire Department said during a Facebook Live broadcast from the area.

"This fire's driven by winds, steep terrain," Townsend said. "We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can."

Townsend said while the official estimate was 50-60 homes destroyed, he believed the actual count would eventually be much higher, as more than 1,500 structures are currently threatened.

There is a greater sense of urgency as many homes in the rural area have propane tanks and some could be seen exploding in Townsend's video.

350 firefighters are on the scene while several hundred more are en route to combat the massive fires.

Evacuations are in place for neighborhoods of Bella Vista, South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Mountain Mesa, South Lake, Squirrel Valley, and Yankee Canyon.

Kern Valley hospital has also been evacuated.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A child was swept away in flood waters in Jackson County, West Virginia, Thursday afternoon, after much of the state's southeastern region had been issued a flash food warning due to heavy rain, according to officials.

A 2- to 4-year-old boy was swept away by swift waters behind homes on Utah Road, outside the city of Ravenswood, said Walter Smittle, Director of 911 and emergency management for Jackson County. His disappearance was reported at 4:25 p.m.

Three fire departments were dispatched to look for the boy, as well as other law enforcement and emergency service agencies, Smittle said. The child has not been located and authorities have suspended the search for the night.

Rescue efforts will resume in the morning.

The news came as authorities in Kanawha County said that they found a drowning victim in a separate incident. No further details were available and authorities were trying to recover the body.

 Rescue efforts and evacuations were underway in West Virginia Thursday afternoon after flash floods ravaged several counties. Up to 10 inches of rain has fallen in Greenbrier County since this morning, while Richwood was expected to receive up to 6 inches of rain through 9 p.m. Both areas are already seeing significant flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

A flash flood warning was issued in East Central Nicholas County, Richwood and Clendenin until midnight, the NWS said, with flood waters moving down the north fork of the Cherry River from Summit Lake to Richwood. Residents were advised to seek higher ground immediately due to the "particularly dangerous situation." A tornado watch and severe thunderstorm watch was also issued until about 10 p.m.

The NWS originally reported that the dam at Summit Lake was breached by flood waters, but the dam remained intact.

 West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a state of emergency for Nicholas County and Greenbrier County, adding that mudslides, rockslides and flooding caused by the severe storms has damaged homes, businesses roads and bridges.

"... Certain portions of Greenbrier and Nicholas Counties have been rendered inaccessible because of public infrastructure damage," a statement from the governor's office read.

The flooding marks the worst in history for Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, said Kim Gross, a representative for Gov. Tomblin.

NEWS: Gov. Tomblin issues State of Emergency (#SOE) for Greenbrier, Nicholas counties in response to flooding. https://t.co/8di7Csarw9

— Governor Tomblin (@GovTomblin) June 23, 2016

Photos taken in Richmond and Greenbrier County show buildings and roads immersed in flood waters.

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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SARASOTA, Fla.) -- A second body was recovered today as the Coast Guard continued searching for four family members who disappeared Sunday on their sailboat off the western coast of Florida.

The first body, who the grieving family said is 17-year-old Becca Lynn, was found Wednesday in the search area in the Gulf of Mexico. The two bodies found were four miles away from each other, but neither has been officially identified by the Coast Guard.

A sailboat mast was also recovered today, 101 miles offshore from Fort Myers, Florida -- the family's planned destination.

A bucket with a wallet and a GPS device was found 5 miles from the first body, the Coast Guard said.

 The Coast Guard began searching Tuesday for Ace Kimberly and his teenage children — Becca Lynn, Donald and Roger — after a concerned relative contacted authorities.

Kimberly's brother told the Coast Guard that the four family members had at least seven life jackets on their 29-foot sailboat, on which they live. They were towing two kayaks when they left Sarasota, Florida, at 7 a.m. Sunday, en route to Fort Myers for boat repairs.

At about 3 p.m. Sunday, the now-missing man called his brother to say the boat was in 6-foot seas near Englewood, 30 miles from Sarasota, and the family was trying to survive.

Items — including six life jackets, two kayaks and a flare — believed to belong to the family have been found during the search.

 At about 2:30 a.m. Thursday, helicopter and boat crews saw something in the search area that looked like a flare rising into the air for three seconds. But when the area was further searched, no flare was found, the Coast Guard said today.

"We still have hope," a Coast Guard official said today, calling it a "dire" situation, but adding, "We want to get out there and save them."

The father has full custody of the children and is separated from their mother, said her sister, Sadie Dilts. She told ABC News on Wednesday that her sister lives in Indiana and was on her way to Florida.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of the University of Texas’ admissions plan, leaving in place the school’s affirmative action policy.

In a 4-3 vote, the justices upheld the judgment of the court of appeals, which ruled in favor of allowing the university to use race as a factor in its admissions process.

“Still, it remains an enduring challenge to our Nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity,” wrote Justice Kennedy for the majority opinion.

What this Means for the Future of Affirmative Action


Today’s ruling was a win for supporters of affirmative action programs and a major defeat for conservatives.

Kennedy, who is often the swing justice, held that UT could continue to use race in a holistic way when considering applicants.

However, he also pointed out that there are restrictions on the school’s freedom to use race. The university must continue to use data to scrutinize the fairness of its admissions program and to assess whether changing demographics upend the need for the race-conscious policy.

The administration will also need to revisit the program to make sure it is in fact working to diversify the student body.

Despite the ruling, it's unclear exactly how this will impact race-based admissions policies around the country.

There are at least two pending challenges to the use of race at both Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC). While today’s opinion certainly boosts the university standpoint, lawyers for the challengers will argue that the ruling should apply only to Texas.

Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote a 51-page dissent, writing that the university wasn't able to prove how using “systematic racial discrimination” was achieving its goals for diversity.

Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, so only 7 justices decided the outcome.

How We Got Here


This is the second time Abigail Fisher, the white woman who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin and filed a lawsuit challenging the university’s use of race in admissions, has had her case decided at the Supreme Court.

In Fisher’s first case, the Supreme Court ruled that the lower courts were too deferential to school administrators and were required to look more closely at the evidence. The 5th Circuit Court stood by its earlier decision, and the case ended up back before the justices.

Texas has a unique admissions program, which first accepts approximately the top 10 percent of graduating seniors from each school in the state and then uses race as part of a holistic analysis (which also includes factors like community service, leadership and family circumstances) in filling the remaining spots.

Reaction

Speaking outside the Court on behalf of the university, UT Vice President Gregory Vincent said that they were “so very thrilled” about the Supreme Court decision rendered today.

“We believe that the educational benefits of diversity are an important part of our educational experience. We believe that all students benefit from a diverse learning environment. We also were encouraged by the language in the case that spoke to the discretion of the university in making these kinds of admissions decisions,” he said.

Fisher and her attorneys were clearly disappointed with the outcome.

Edward Blum, president of the Project on Fair Representation, argued that racial classifications are one of the “most polarizing policies in America today.”

“As long as universities like the Univ. of Texas continue to treat applicants differently by race and ethnicity, the social fabric that holds us together as a nation will be weakened,” he said in a statement.

The Department of Justice, who argued in support of UT, also weighed in on the decision, saying that a diverse student enrollment is vital to education in the United States.

Going forward, the Department of Justice will continue to stand up for these principles, and to work with colleges and universities to promote diversity in a way that is consistent with the law,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement.

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