Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

Top court to weigh end to race-based US college admissions

Top court to weigh end to race-based US college admissions

The US Supreme Court will take up two cases this autumn that ask whether university race-based admissions violate civil rights laws.

How the court rules could pave the way for a historic end to policies meant to help applicants previously seen to face discrimination.

The cases concern admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The schools are accused of discrimination against Asian and white applicants.

The conservative-leaning Supreme Court is seen as likely to issue a decision that would signal an end to affirmative action, a practice that has been used to encourage racial diversity in many schools for decades.

The court has previously upheld racially-conscious admissions, most recently at the University of Texas in 2016. Decisions for the upcoming cases are expected by mid-2023.

What are the Harvard and UNC cases about?

In a lawsuit against Harvard University, a group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) alleged that the institution unfairly weighs race when considering applicants, forcing Asian-American students to meet a higher bar than their peers from other racial groups.

The SFFA - which is led by conservative activist Edward Blum - opposes affirmative action, described as a proactive policy to include racial minorities that historically faced discriminated in the US.

Harvard has repeatedly denied the charges and said it uses a "holistic" strategy to evaluate applicants, with race as one of only a number of factors - although it argued that race-conscious admissions are permissible by law.

The university is one of the top-rated and most selective private universities in the US. It admitted 2,320 students from over 57,000 applicants for its most recent batch, the class of 2025. Of these, 25.9% were Asian American.

The school was cleared of violating civil rights by a federal court in October 2019.

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow denounced the decision to review the case, saying it "puts at risk 40 years of legal precedent granting colleges and universities the freedom and flexibility to create diverse campus communities".

A separate lawsuit filed by the SFFA against the University of North Carolina (UNC) alleged that white applicants were being discriminated against in an admissions process that favoured black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants.

UNC, a publically funded school, has denied the charges and said its admissions process was lawful - a claim that was affirmed in a lower federal trial court.

In UNC's case, the school's admissions rate stood at 19.2% in the fall of 2021, out of more than 53,700 applicants. Of these, approximately 65% identify as white.

A spokesperson for UNC told BBC it looks forward to "defending the university's holistic admissions process before the US Supreme Court".

What has the court said before?

The cases will mark the first time the Supreme Court hears a university-focused affirmative action case since 2016, when it determined that officials at the University of Texas in Austin could consider race a factor in its admissions process.

Several members of the current conservative-leaning Supreme Court, however, have previously voiced their disapproval of race-based admissions processes at American universities.

A Gallup poll released in July 2021 found that about 62% of Americans support affirmative action policies - the highest number in 20 years. It did not, however, specify whether this meant at schools or jobs.

Forty-four years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that state colleges could not use quotas to set the racial balance of their student bodies. Since then, the court has allowed public universities to devise "holistic" admissions processes that indirectly achieve the same results.

The two cases the Supreme Court just agreed to consider are direct assaults on that legal framework, which has been stable for several decades. What's more, it could shake up the college admissions process not just for public institutions, but for all universities, including the nation's most prestigious private colleges.

Given that the Biden administration specifically recommended the justices not take these cases because they challenge established precedent, it seems possible, if not likely, there is a majority of the court ready for a major change.

The admissions policies of selective colleges, as well as prestigious high schools, has become a topic of intense debate across the US in recent years, as those institutions grapple with questions of institutional racism and the desire to reward merit.

This could become the latest example of the newly solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court flexing its legal muscle as it wades into a politically charged topic.


Related Articles

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.
Double standards: UK lawmakers attack EU chief over Ireland claims