WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judge Sonia Sotomayor said Tuesday that the question of whether affirmative action is needed is "always first a legislative determination."
The Constitution, she noted, promotes and requires the equal protection of all citizens.
"It is firmly my hope," she said, that in 25 years race won't need to be considered as factor. The country, she said, has made great strides in racial matters in recent years. She also cited, however, situations with "compelling state interests" - such as university admissions - where the state often applies a solution "that is very narrowly tailored."
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Sotomayor specifically noted a case involving the University of Michigan law school, where the high court ruled that it was appropriate for race to be considered as one of several factors. She also noted, however, a companion case in which the high court rejected a system of racial quotas in the undergraduate admissions program in the University of Michigan.