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SCOTUS to Hear Race-Conscious Admissions Cases

By Lindsey A. DiCesare posted 02-08-2022 12:56


On January 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to race-conscious admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read the cert petitions here and here.

Students for Fair Admissions is challenging the race-based admissions policies and asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act bars colleges and universities that receive federal funding from considering race in the admissions process. Additionally, they are arguing the 14th Amendment bars public schools from considering race. The group is asking the court to overrule Grutter v Bollinger, a 2003 case, which raised the issue of whether the use of race as a factor in student admission by the University of Michigan Law School was unlawful.  In Grutter, the court held that colleges and universities may use race as one factor in admissions decisions.

The use of race in admissions was upheld in 2016 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Fisher v University of Texas at Austin. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel A. Alito dissented in the 4-3 decision. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a member of the majority, has passed away since the decision, and Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the decision. The U.S Department of Justice supported the Students for Fair Administrations in the 2018 Harvard case; however, the department’s position has switched with the Biden administration. The cases are expected to be argued in Fall 2022.