June 13, 1995
The Supreme Court yesterday dealt what may be a fatal blow to affirmative action by the federal government.It did so by re-interpreting a 1980 decision of the court and explicitly over-ruling a 1990 decision. Conservative justices -- as the five members of the majority all are -- usually accept precedents. Sensitive to anticipated criticism on this score, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said of the change in the court's tune, "We do not depart from the fabric of the law; we restore it." That led dissenter John Paul Stevens to observe that this invited skepticism.