October 25, 2022
Next Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about whether considering race as a factor during the admission process is lawful — a decision that could have a big impact on the admissions practices of private colleges in California and the institutions outside the state that many Californians attend.
California banned affirmative action in its public universities in 1996 through Proposition 209, but there are high stakes for Californians in the Supreme Court case, said Michele Siqueiros, president of The Campaign for College Opportunity.
“Some maybe think that this national conversation about affirmative action in college admissions doesn’t affect our state because of the Prop. 209 ban, but they are mistaken for many reasons,” she said Monday during a media briefing on the case.
She noted that private colleges in California serve as many students as the University of California does — over 356,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 2020, according to the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. Private universities and colleges in California are allowed to consider race as a factor in admissions, but that could change if the Supreme Court sides with a plaintiff who has sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
Additionally, 10.5% of college-bound students in California — or over 31,000 students — attended school out of state, according to the most recent data from the California Department of Education for the class of 2018.
A number of private and public institutions of higher education signed amicus briefs in support of using affirmative action during the admissions process. That includes California institutions, such as Stanford University, Pomona College and the California Institute of Technology. The deans of several law schools, including some in California, also argued in favor of affirmative action.
The court is being asked whether it should overrule its 2003 opinion in a case brought by a white student rejected from the University of Michigan’s law school. That is one of a series of cases that established that institutions can use race as a factor in admissions. The latest cases, brought by Edward Blum of Students for Fair Admissions, argues that affirmative action penalizes white and Asian American applicants, violating their federal civil rights.