Supreme Court Takes Two Cases Challenging Racial Preferences in College Admissions

The Supreme Court heard two appeals challenging university admissions based on racial preference this morning. Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of HarvardAnd Students for Fair Admissions to the University of North Carolina. This will be the first Supreme Court case involving affirmative actions in higher education. Fisher v. University of Texas II (2016), a ruling I critiqued here.

Evidently, since the Court was formed, it has become more conservative. This means that the Court is likely to be stricter against racial preference than previous decisions. The Court could even overrule Grutter v. Bollinger2003, the ruling in which justices supported the “diversity” rationale for racial preference in educational institutions. It is possible, however, that the Court may subject these preferences to a tighter scrutiny without forbidding them.

Harvard is notable also because this will be the Supreme Court’s first affirmative action case in which the school has been accused of discriminating against Asian-Americans. In the Harvard case, the plaintiffs presented ample evidence that showed the university discriminates against Asian applicants. This was not just in relation to other racial groups but also when compared with whites. The topic of anti-Asian racism by elite education institutions has been gaining increasing attention over the years.

The Harvard case is the subject of a new article that I am writing. This will be posted on the NBC site later today or tomorrow. In that  piece, I address the issues raised in greater detail. It will be linked here once it has been posted.

NOTE: Alison Somin is my wife and co-author of an amicus brief, urging the Supreme Court in Harvard, to hear it. Also, she serves as co-counsel for the plaintiffs, challenging anti-Asian discrimination at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Fairfax, Virginia.