SCOTUS will hear lawsuits challenging race-based college admissions practices

Fox News reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases looking to put an end to affirmative action-type college admissions practices. 

Accordingly, a big change may be on the horizon for how colleges go about selecting students. But, that will depend on the justices rule.

The cases

There are two cases that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear.

Both lawsuits, which have now been consolidated into one, were brought by the Students for Fair Admissions group. One took aim at the University of North Carolina (UNC), and the other, at Harvard.

Regarding Harvard, Students for Fair Admissions wrote in their Supreme Court petition:

Harvard uses race at every stage of the admissions process. African-American and Hispanic students with PSAT scores of 1100 and up are invited to apply to Harvard, but white and Asian-American students must score a 1350…. In some parts of the country, Asian-American applicants must score higher than all other racial groups, including whites, to be recruited by Harvard.

The group went on to argue that similar practices are taking place at UNC.

“Like Harvard, UNC is devoted to using race indefinitely and at every stage of its admissions process,” the group wrote.

Background

These cases were already heard at lower court levels, and the Students for Fair Admissions lost. So, the Supreme Court is their last try.

A key precedent, in this case, will be Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that schools can use race as a factor in their admissions process because of their compelling interest in having a diverse student body. So, in order for Students for Fair Admissions to win, the justices would seem to have to overrule this precedent.

Harvard, for its part, has issued a response to the allegations made in the lawsuit. The school claims that its admission process does not discriminate against Asian-Americans. It also argued that, since it cannot accept every student with a perfect GPA, other factors, such as “the capacity to contribute to racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, or geographic diversity,” come into play.

“The consideration of race only ever benefits students who are otherwise highly qualified, and it is not decisive even for those candidates,” Harvard claimed.

We’ll have to see what the justices decide here. It is an issue that has been debated for decades now. With the court now having a conservative majority, maybe now is the time to get school admissions back to being based on merit, rather than one’s “race” or “ethnicity.”

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