Affirmative Action: the Supreme Court Will Consider Whether Race Should Be Included in College Admissions.
Reviving a dispute over affirmative action that has been brewing for years, the Supreme Court announced Monday that it will rule on whether Harvard University and the University of North Carolina’s admissions processes violate civil rights legislation and the Constitution.
As a result of the decision to hear both cases, the Supreme Court will be the first in the country to address the controversial subject of whether or not institutions can consider race when accepting students. Harvard admits that race is a consideration in their admissions process, but claims that it is only one of several. This is in line with the existing legal requirement, according to Harvard.
As a result of accepting the high-profile case, the Supreme Court has added yet another divisive topic to an already crowded docket. Pregnancy-related cases from Texas and Mississippi, New York gun laws, and COVID-19-related conflicts have dominated the court for much of its current term, including the decision this month to halt vaccination requirements for major employers under the Biden administration.
With Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court appears to endorse Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
However, given the number of cases already scheduled for argument this year, it’s likely that the justices will wait until the start of their next term in October before taking up the affirmative action suits.
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Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow warned that the Supreme Court’s decision to examine the unanimous rulings of lower federal courts “puts at jeopardy 40 years of legal precedent allowing colleges and institutions the freedom and flexibility to develop diverse campus communities.” In the future, Harvard will forcefully defend its admissions methods.
It was in June that the court took a break from Harvard’s case, allowing the Biden administration to submit a brief, even though the federal government is not a party to the litigation. In early December, the administration argued that the lawsuit should not be heard and urged the court to follow its previous affirmative action rulings.
Students for Fair Admissions, an anti-affirmative action group founded by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, filed the complaints. Harvard University and the University of North Carolina are accused of discriminating against Asian American and white applicants in their admissions processes in order to increase African American and Hispanic enrolment.
In November, the same group filed a similar lawsuit against the University of North Carolina, a public university. A federal statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in federally funded programmes, and the Harvard complaint contends that Harvard violated this rule. They claim the 14th Amendment’s promise of equal treatment in law has been violated by the university’s rules in their case in North Carolina.
At Harvard, UNC, and all universities, “it is our hope that the justices would abolish the use of race as an admissions criteria,” Blum stated. “The notion that an individual’s race should not be exploited to aid or damage them in their life’s activities is the cornerstone of our nation’s civil rights laws.”
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Conservatives have targeted affirmative action programmes in university admissions for decades, but the Supreme Court has sustained many of these rules in a series of rulings dating back to 1978. The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the use of racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin was constitutional because “considerable deference is due to a university” that seeks to diversify its student body.
However, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s former swing vote who retired in 2018, penned the 4-3 ruling. He was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, a more conservative Associate Justice. With the addition of Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, opponents of affirmative action now have new hope for a reversal of the court’s decision.
It was claimed that Asian American applicants were unfairly penalised since they received lower “personal evaluations” than their white counterparts. Aside from academics, extracurricular activities, sports, and legacy links, these ratings are meant to foster a more diverse campus community.
It’s well-established that colleges can include race as one element among many in a comprehensive, personalised assessment of each applicant’s history, experiences, and potential contributions to campus life in order to reap the educational benefits of diversity. According to a 2020 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, Harvard can utilise race as one of several variables when selecting students.
Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a decision in October in favour of the university in a separate dispute. Blum’s group has appealed to the Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va.