Supreme Court to hear challenges to affirmative action in college admissions

·2 min read
Supreme Court (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Supreme Court (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging the use of affirmative action policies by college admissions departments, the Court announced on Monday.

A case alleging that Harvard University’s admissions process discriminates against Asian-Americans will be heard by the Court, likely in the next term. The case argues that Harvard’s policy of actively seeking to boost underrepresentation of minority groups including Black and Latino students ends up harming applicants of Asian or Pacific Islander descent. The lawsuit does not name any current or former students.

As a result of the school’s efforts to boost admission rates of Black and Latino students, the case argues, Asian-Americans are rejected at a disproportionately high rate. The makeup of Harvard’s current freshman class is nearly half white; Asian-Americans make up a quarter of the entire population, the second-largest share of all races reflected in the survey.

A second, similar case was also picked up by the Court on Monday which looks at race-based admissions practices at the University of North Carolina. The two suits are being led by the same conservative group, Students for Fair Admissions.

If the Court decides the case against Harvard or UNC, it could potentially mean the end of the longstanding precedent affirming that there is legitimate interest in considering the race of applicants to ensure that student populations reflect the broader scope of society. Harvard’s lawyers and the US Solicitor General urged the justices to side with precedent.

"Universities across the country have followed this precedent in structuring their admissions processes," attorneys for Harvard wrote. "And the American public has looked to this precedent for assurance that the Nation recognizes and values the benefits of diversity and that the path to leadership is open to all."

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