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U.S. Supreme Court to hear cases challenging affirmative action at universities

According to the BBC, the lawsuit against Harvard was brought on by a group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which alleges that the university unfairly weighs race when considering applicants.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear cases challenging affirmative action at universities
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool
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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases challenging race-based affirmative action following allegations that colleges and universities across the United States discriminate against Asian-Americans and whites on the basis of race.

Efforts to bring the cases against Harvard and the University of North Carolina to the Supreme Court have been a long time coming, with previous efforts being pushed back to lower courts, and effectively enabling colleges to practice legalized discrimination against students on the grounds of their ethnicity and skin colour.

“The Supreme Court agrees to hear a pair of cases that challenge the race-based affirmative action policies for admission at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina,” SCOTUS Blog reported Monday. “The cases likely will be argued next term.”

The Supreme Court will decide if the admissions processes violate civil rights laws. Both the universities named in the lawsuits are accused of discriminating against Asian and white Americans.

According to the BBC, which detailed the Harvard and UNC cases, the lawsuit against Harvard was brought on by a group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which alleges that the university unfairly weighs race when considering applicants.

Under the policy, Asian-American students are forced to meet a higher bar than students from other races. Harvard has denied the charges and claims it uses a “holistic” strategy to evaluate applicants, claiming that race is only one of several factors. The university admits that using race as a factor is permitted by law.

In the separate lawsuit against the University of North Carolina, the SFFA states that white applicants are being discriminated against in an admissions process that favours black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants.

Like Harvard, UNC, which is funded by the state, denies the charges and claims its admissions process was lawful. The claim was affirmed in a lower federal trial court.

Both schools defend their race-based admissions process as “holistic.” 

As detailed by the Daily Wire on Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas has previously concurred with the court against affirmative action processes, and his views may carry a lot of weight in the now conservative-dominated court. 

“I note that racial engineering does in fact have insidious consequences,” Thomas wrote in 2012, in regards to a challenge to an affirmative action program at the University of Texas. “There can be no doubt that the University’s discrimination injures white and Asian applicants who are denied admission because of their race. But I believe the injury to those admitted under the University’s discriminatory admissions program is even more harmful.”

“Blacks and Hispanics admitted to the University as a result of racial discrimination are, on average, far less prepared than their white and Asian classmates,” Thomas said.

“The University admits minorities who otherwise would have attended less selective colleges where they would have been more evenly matched,” he argued. “But, as a result of the mismatching, many blacks and Hispanics who likely would have excelled at less elite schools are placed in a position where underperformance is all but inevitable because they are less academically prepared than the white and Asian students with whom they must compete. Setting aside the damage wreaked upon the self- confidence of these overmatched students, there is no evidence that they learn more at the University than they would have learned at other schools for which they were better prepared. Indeed, they may learn less.”

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