On Monday (January 24), the nation’s highest court agreed to hear a challenge to the use of race in college admissions decisions, which could potentially lead to a landmark overhaul of affirmative action in higher education.
The case was brought on by the conservative-supported group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), who sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, accusing the schools of illegally discriminating against Asian American prospective students.
According to The Hill, news of SCOTUS taken on the case came in a brief order that didn’t have comment or dissent on the matter. It also comes after the Biden Administration asked the Court to not take on the case, arguing that Harvard’s admissions protocols were lawful.
Harvard called SFFA’s lawsuit an attempt to undo decades of work to promote on-campus diversity by considering the race of its student bodies during the admissions process.
“Having failed to make the case that Harvard’s admissions practices contravene the court’s precedents governing the use of race in admissions, SFFA asks the court to overthrow them,” the University wrote in a court filing last May. “But SFFA offers no legitimate justification for such an extraordinary step.”
The group sued UNC on the same grounds, but lost in federal district court. They skipped over filing with another federal court, bringing the case straight to the nation’s capital.
SFFA claims the schools hold Asian American applicants to a higher academic standard than other groups and are admitted at a lower rate than white students despite their test scores being higher.
The group wants to undo the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision in which the Supreme Court ruled to allow college admissions to factor applicants’ race to enhance diversity and benefit historically-oppressed groups.