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A Clear Divide for the Supreme Court

A Clear Divide for the Supreme Court

Inside Higher Ed

Scott Jaschik
January 25, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear two cases on affirmative action in college admissions: one involving Harvard University and the other the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
When the justices consider the cases later this year, they will return to the issue they last faced in 2016 of whether colleges—public or private—can consider race in admissions. The justices may decide to put limits on affirmative action, but not to ban it, as the plaintiffs in the case are seeking.
“Harvard and the University of North Carolina have racially gerrymandered their freshman classes in order to achieve prescribed racial quotas,” said Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, which sued both universities. “Every college applicant should be judged as a unique individual, not as some representative of a racial or ethnic group. The cornerstone of our nation’s civil rights laws is the principle that an individual’s race should not be used to help or harm them in their life’s endeavors. We hope the Supreme Court will use these cases to begin the restoration of the colorblind legal covenant that holds together Americans of all races and ethnicities.”
Lawrence S. Bacow, the president of Harvard University, said, the Supreme Court’s decision to review the two cases “puts at risk 40 years of legal precedent granting colleges and universities the freedom and flexibility to create diverse campus communities.
“Considering race as one factor among many in admissions decisions produces a more diverse student body which strengthens the learning environment for all … Harvard does not discriminate; our practices are consistent with Supreme Court precedent; there is no persuasive, credible evidence warranting a different outcome,” he said.
Beth Keith, associate vice chancellor for university communications at Chapel Hill, said university administrators “look forward” to defending the university’s admissions process. “As the trial court held, our process is consistent with long-standing Supreme Court precedent and allows for an evaluation of each student in a deliberate and thoughtful way.”
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