As the nation confronts racial tensions in the streets and on college campuses, the U.S. Supreme Court last week gave few hints of how it will decide two challenges with major implications for that struggle. But with an apparently divided high court, the outcomes may turn on Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In the challenge to the continued use of affirmative action in higher education, Kennedy raised the possibility of avoiding the issue by sending the case back to the lower courts for more information. And in the second case, which argues for a dramatic change in how people are counted in legislative redistricting, he saw valid constitutional arguments for the current and proposed ways of counting.

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