SCOTUS rules against affirmative action in college admissions

The Supreme Court has ruled against race-based admissions to institutions of higher education in a long-awaited decision handed down Thursday morning.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled against race-based admissions to colleges and universities in a long-awaited decision handed down Thursday morning.

The SCOTUS decision concludes a near ten-year feud between Students for Fair Admissions and two universities—beginning in 2014 with SFFA’s initial lawsuits against Harvard University and UNC Chapel Hill for admissions discrimination on the basis of race. 

The court ruled that both UNC and Harvard’s race-conscious admissions programs violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. The votes were 6-3 and 6-2, respectively, with Ketanji Brown Jackson, who previously served on Harvard’s Board of Overseers, recusing herself from the Harvard vote.

The allegations brought against Harvard alleged that the university was discriminating against Asian students in its admissions process. 

[RELATED: TASHJY: Race has become ‘the factor’ for admission to college, in many cases]

Similarly, as noted by Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow and Suffolk University Professor Ken Tashjy, SFFA asserted that UNC Chapel Hill’s continued use of race-conscious admissions violates federal law “while providing no proof that using race-neutral alternatives would negatively effect academic quality or the educational benefits allegedly produced from achieving a diverse student body.”

However, district courts in each state struck down both of SFFA’s lawsuits in 2019 and 2021 respectively. SFFA then appealed both cases and petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). 

This led to SCOTUS’ final agreement on January 24, 2022, to hear both cases concerning affirmative action policies—which the majority of Americans actually oppose, according to a poll covered by Campus Reform last year.

[RELATED: OPINION: The Supreme Court is poised to finally reject racial discrimination in higher education admissions]

Prior to the summer 2023 decision, Tashjy told Campus Reform that he was “hopeful” of the outcome. 

“Here’s hoping that SFFA succeeds in overturning Grutter [the case used to justify affirmative action policies] and its discriminatory scheme and ends, once and for all, the illicit use of racial stereotypes and racial quotas in higher education admissions,” he wrote. 

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