Only two of the eight justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, which Thursday ruled affirmative action may be used in college admissions, are people of color. And they have very different opinions on whether race should have any weight when a college or university is reviewing student applications.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the court’s 2014 ruling upholding a Michigan law banning affirmative action, saying colleges need to be free to prioritize diversity. She also recounted her experiences as a Hispanic student at Princeton University in her memoir, “My Beloved World.” Here are excerpts of the text as it appears on Google Books:

The Daily Princetonian routinely published letters to the editor lamenting the presence on campus of ‘affirmative action students,’ each one of whom had presumably displaced a far more deserving white male and would rightly be expected to crash into the gutter built of her own unrealistic aspirations. There were vultures circling, ready to dive when we stumbled. The pressure to succeed was relentless, even if self-imposed out of fear and insecurity. For we all felt that if we did fail, we would be proving the critics right, and the doors that had opened just a crack to let us in would be slammed shut again.

...

I couldn't shake the feeling of having been admitted because of some clerical oversight. Margarita felt it too, Ken said the same thing, and the sentiment has been expressed countless times by minority students everywhere: By some accident of fate, we few among the great many had won the lottery.

...

Until we would raise kids of our own, no minority students had alumni for parents, and rare indeed were those who had not come from poor communities. The typical undergraduate had been guided to Princeton by relatives, by prep school guidance counselors, or else by teachers savvy about the system. Minority kids, however, had no one but their few immediate predecessors: The first to scale the ivy-covered wall against the odds, just one step ahead ourselves, we would hold the ladder steady for the next kid with more talent than opportunity.

...

This outreach was vital because disadvantaged students often had no idea that they stood a chance at a place like Princeton, assuming they'd even heard the name. In high school, I was vaguely aware that affirmative action existed, but I had no idea how or to what extent it worked in practical terms.

...

My innocence was the result of being unaware of just how few Latinas there would be in a place like Princeton, or for that matter that my being one could have figured so much in my admission.

Justice Clarence Thomas, however, said affirmative action left him feeling stigmatized for being a black student — and, later, a black graduate. He wrote in his book “My Grandfather’s Son” that he “wished with all my heart” that he hadn’t put his race on his application to Yale University. According to excerpts quoted in On the Issues and “Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice,” he also said:

Affirmative action (though it wasn’t yet called that) had become a fact of life at American colleges and universities, and before long I realized that those blacks who benefited from it were being judged by a double standard. As much as it stung to be told that I’d done well in the seminary DESPITE my race, it was far worse to feel that I was now at Yale BECAUSE of it. I sought to vanquish the perception that I was somehow inferior to my white classmates by obtaining special permission to carry more than the maximum number of credit hours and by taking a rigorous curriculum of courses in such traditional areas as corporate law, bankruptcy and commercial transactions. How could anyone dare to doubt my abilities if I excelled in such demanding classes?

...

It was futile for me to suppose that I could escape the stigmatizing effects of racial preference, and I began to fear that it would be used forever after to discount my achievements.

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By then I knew I'd made a mistake in going to Yale. I felt as though I'd been tricked, that some of the people who claimed to be helping me were in fact hurting me. 

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At least Southerners were up front about their bigotry: You knew exactly where they were coming from, just like the Georgia rattlesnakes that always let you know when they were ready to strike. Not so the paternalistic big-city whites who offered you a helping hand so long as you were careful to agree with them, but slapped you down if you started acting as if you didn’t know your place. 

...

Now I knew what a law degree from Yale was worth when it bore the taint of racial preference. I was humiliated — and desperate. The snake had struck.

Thomas dissented Thursday, writing:

I join Justice Alito’s dissent. As Justice Alito explains, the court’s decision today is irreconcilable with strict scrutiny, rests on pernicious assumptions about race, and departs from many of our precedents. I write separately to reaffirm that ‘a state’s use of race in higher education admissions decisions is categorically prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause.’ Fisher v. University of Tex. at Austin, 570 U. S. ___, ___ (2013) (Thomas, J., concurring) (slip op., at 1). ‘The Constitution abhors classifications based on race because every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all.’ Id., at ___ (slip op., at 2) (internal quotation marks omitted). That constitutional imperative does not change in the face of a ‘faddish theor[y]’ that racial discrimination may produce “educational benefits.” Id., at ___, ___ (slip op., at 5, 13). The Court was wrong to hold otherwise in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306, 343 (2003). I would overrule Grutter and reverse the Fifth Circuit’s judgment.

Read the court’s full decision in the Fisher case here.