Supreme Court looks at ending race-based college admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday regarding race-based admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in a case that could change systems nationwide.

The two schools have argued that racial preferences remain important to diversity, while opponents argue that the rankings discriminate.

The background

“It pits competing views of more than a century of civil rights law and whether iconic legislation such as the Constitution’s equal protection clause requires a colorblind approach or rather envisions affirmative moves to promote Blacks or other minorities who struggle to attain admission,” the Washington Times reported.

“The group challenging Harvard and UNC, in separate cases, is Students for Fair Admissions, which brought a new wrinkle to the debate by using Asian American plaintiffs who the group said have joined Whites as losers in the affirmative action process,” it added.

The concern

“During nearly five hours of at times heated arguments, several of the court’s conservatives noted that a 2003 precedent that permits the use of race in admissions had urged that such policies shouldn’t be in place indefinitely,” USA Today reported.

“How, the court’s conservative justices asked, will supporters of the policies determine whether the goals had been reached?” it added.

In an odd twist, dozens of major U.S. companies have urged the court to uphold race-based admissions, apparently advocating for policies that discriminate against the best student candidates.

The case also reveals concerns about the end goal of such practices. Conservative justices have noted that there appears to be no clear end in sight for achieving diversity goals.

The story will continue to be closely followed by those with opinions on both sides as the court looks at an issue impacting the entire nation.