"We tend to think of states' rights when we think of the state vs. the federal government, but there's another side to states' rights, and that's the state vs. the individual when people's individual rights are being asserted against a state," said Mr. Amar. "The more broadly you construe something like the First Amendment, you're not limiting just the federal government, but the state government as well. States sometimes win in clashes with the federal government, but they are also losing in clashes that are with individuals."
"The big message here is that U.S. Constitution does not prohibit states from considering affirmative action, but neither does it hamper states that want to cut back on that experiment," said Vikram Amar, a professor and associate dean at the University of California's Davis Law School. "It's neither prohibited nor required once it is enacted. It is up to each state how they want to handle this issue — at least for now."