Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Affirmative Action In College Admissions

By Bill Galluccio

January 24, 2022

Supreme Court Releases Orders
Photo: Getty Images

The Supreme Court announced it is taking up two cases challenging affirmative action in college admissions. The two lawsuits accuse Harvard and the University of North Carolina of using "race as a factor in admissions" and "penalizing Asian American applicants."

The lawsuits were filed by Students for Fair Admissions which has spent nearly two decades trying to overturn a 2003 Supreme Court decision upholding affirmative action. They argue that affirmative action is unconstitutional and violates the equal protection clause.

"If a university wants to admit students with certain experiences (say, overcoming discrimination), then it can evaluate whether individual applicants have that experience," the suit said. "It cannot simply use race as a proxy for certain experiences or views."

Lower courts have sided with both universities, ruling that their admissions policies are constitutional.

Harvard warned that the case could put an end to affirmative action and undo 40 years of legal precedent.

"The Supreme Court decision to review the unanimous decisions of the lower federal courts puts at risk 40 years of legal precedent granting colleges and universities the freedom and flexibility to create diverse campus communities," Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow said. "Harvard will continue to defend vigorously its admissions practices."

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