The concept of affirmative action has been under attack for the last few years. Opponents claim that it is itself a form of racial discrimination.
One person who emphatically does not agree with that notion is the Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, who has become the most prominent defender of affirmative action in the country. Her view is that racial and ethnic quotas have helped to diversify the nation's colleges and universities and that nothing else can come close to having the same effect.
Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion in April in a 6-2 decision that upheld a state's right to outlaw the use of race in determining admissions.
The justice participated on Sunday in a rare television interview on ABC's "This Week" as she promotes the paperback edition of her book, "My Beloved World," and on the show she rejected the notion that alternatives to affirmative action such as income or residency could achieve similar results.
When asked about other, "less fractious" measures, she answered, "Well, the problem with that answer is that it doesn't work."
"You don't believe it?" George Stephanopoulos asked her.
"It's not that I don't believe it," she said. "I don't think the statistics show it works. Just doesn't."
Sotomayor is the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court and graduated from Princeton University. She said her alma mater could fill its freshman class with students who scored perfectly on undergraduate metrics, but it chooses not to do so because it would not create a diverse class based on standards the school considers important for success in life.
She also pointed out that some students boost their prospects for attending a school based on their family's history.
"Look, we have legacy admissions. If your parents or your grandparents have been to that school, they're going to give you an advantage in getting into the school again," Sotomayor said. "Legacy admission is a wonderful thing because it means even if you're not as qualified as others you're going to get that slight advantage."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.