Will Affirmative Action in College Admissions Become A Thing of the Past? Supreme Court May Decide.
Minorities in this country, specifically Black Americans, have suffered unthinkable injustices on the basis of race. The Supreme Court in the controversial 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger the Supreme Court held that using race as a factor in college admissions does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. However, the Supreme Court did strike down the use of racial quotas in college admissions in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, back in 1978.
The current state of affirmative action for college admissions is that race can be used as a “soft plus factor” but strict racial quotas are prohibited. The opinion in Grutter made clear that affirmative action was not meant to last forever, rather it was supposed to be used for as long as it takes to reach equality among the races, and to reverse past injustices. Affirmative action was always meant to be a temporary solution.
In recent years, affirmative action has come under scrutiny for harming Asian American students. Asian Americans are overrepresented in higher education, and as a result, college admissions in many schools cap the number of Asians admitted, resulting in an artificially low number of Asians.
Now, the conservative Supreme Court may have a chance to overrule Grutter and end affirmative action in higher education in the case of Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. the University of North Carolina.
What happened in the Students for Fair Admissions case?
This case combines two cases, one from UNC and one from Harvard. UNC uses students’ race as a factor in its admissions and awards racial preferences to Black, Hispanic, and Native American students. Asian Americans are equated to white students are receive no preference. Online messages between admissions officers show the officers crudely referring to minority students as “brown” and read “ if its brown and about a 1300 SAT put them in for the merit/excel scholarship.” And “with these kids, I’m trying to at least give them a chance to compete even if the extracurriculars and essays are just average.”
UNC has argued that there are no viable race-neutral alternatives that would allow it to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. Harvard also rejects the race-neutral alternative.
The nonprofit organization Students for Fair Admissions argues that Grutter is contrary to the Supreme Court’s Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence, as different treatment based on racial classifications is what the Fourteenth Amendment sought to prevent.
Time will tell whether this case makes it to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does take on this case, affirmative action will likely become a thing of the past.
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