Majority of Americans oppose race-based admissions, according to poll

A new poll shows that 62% of Americans are against affirmative action policies in university admissions.

The Supreme Court is set to release a decision about affirmative action policies in June.

New data from a Reuters and Ipsos opinion poll shows that 62% of Americans believe that race should not be a factor in college and university admissions.

The nationally representative poll, published on Wednesday, was conducted in early February to gauge public opinion ahead of the upcoming Supreme Court decision on affirmative action in higher education admissions.

Along partisan lines, 73% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats are against “race-conscious admissions,” Reuters/Ipsos data shows. Majorities in each racial group surveyed also disapproved of race-based admissions. 

Data from an April 2022 Pew Research Center poll supports this trend by showing that 68% of Hispanics, 63% of Asian Americans, and 59% of Black Americans disapprove of using race as an admissions factor.

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Oral arguments for Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. University of North Carolina (UNC) were heard in October.

The NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF) submitted three amicus briefs on behalf of Harvard and UNC in support of affirmative action policies, and a total of 82 corporations signed the briefs, citing 40 years of race-conscious admissions precedent.

Higher Education Fellow Adam Ellwanger summarized recent affirmative action precedent by describing how universities have “continue[d] to work around the court’s restrictions” that have narrowed race-based admissions standards over time.

SFFA argues that race-based admissions policies violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, as explained by the SCOTUS Blog

Edward Blum, SFFA Spokesperson, told Campus Reform that popular opinion ought to strengthen the SFFA’s case.

“Like dozens of earlier polls conducted during the last decade,” said Blum, “the recent one from Reuters reflects what a significant majority of all Americans believe: A student’s race should not be a factor in college admissions. Those who advocate for the continuation of race in admissions are working against the convictions and preferences of the majority of America’s racial minorities.”

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As Ellwanger contends, “Having a diverse student population does have benefits. But when that diversity is achieved by means that are prejudicial rather than meritocratic, the entire campus community suffers. The court should not pass up the opportunity to ensure fairness and equality in college admissions – finally, once and for all.”

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in June.

UNC, Harvard, and the LDF have not yet responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.

Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.