The cases allege that universities violate the law by looking at race, giving preference to Indigenous, black and Latinx applicants—and discriminating against white and Asian candidates.
Specifically in the case against Harvard, race is being used as a divide between people of color, claiming that Asian Americans are being sidelined from admissions. It argues that the university works to ensure a certain amount of diversity in each class, which penalizes Asian Americans who perform better than other communities of color.
The cases will be decided separately as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a graduate of Harvard and a current member of the university’s board of overseas affairs, said she would recuse herself from the case.
The case against affirmative action
Affirmative action has been controversial since its inception. Educational institutions adopted it in the 1960s to diversify their student bodies, and the practice has been no stranger to litigation since then.
Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), run by Edward Blum, a conservative legal strategist, is responsible for bringing both cases to the Supreme Court. Blum has committed his career to making the case against affirmative action and racial equality, and he took it Fisher v. University of Texas Went to the Supreme Court in 2015. In that case, Abigail Fisher, a white woman, alleged that she was wrongfully rejected from the University of Texas at Austin because of her race, but the court disagreed.
This was in accordance with previous orders. In 2003 Gerter vs. Bollinger, a white woman claimed that she was wrongfully rejected from the university of her choice because of race, and that the university discriminated against whites and violated the 14th Amendment. In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld the consideration of race as a factor in deciding whether a student is accepted, highlighting the importance of student diversity.
“[It] recognized a diverse student body as a compelling interest, therefore considering race as a factor in a holistic process should be narrowly designed to serve that interest,” said the National Women’s Law Center’s Educational said Baylis Fidiman, Director and Senior Advisor at Equity.
Defense of affirmative action
Despite what conservative pundits have claimed in their talking points, race-conscious practices like affirmative action do not necessarily mean that students of color are immediately accepted into university or that standards for admitting people of a particular race are lowered. is minimized. Instead, race is a factor among many for admission to higher education.
Affirmative action is widely supported by people across the U.S. Its supporters include civil rights groups, legal professionals, and educational professionals and their unions. Even major business and tech companies like Johnson & Johnson, Uber, Google, American Express, Apple and Levi Strauss support the practice.
These companies and groups, along with hundreds of individuals, alumni, organizations, trade unions, legal organizations and advocacy groups, have asked SCOTUS to uphold the practice in the Harvard and UNC cases.
The conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned abortion rights, already overturning longstanding precedent in its latest term. An injunction against affirmative action will be overturned Grutter and implicate past cases on affirmative action or education.
“The merits of this case have already been well argued. Affirmative action has been upheld for decades; It’s not something that’s up for debate,” said Sally Chen, education equity program manager at Chinese for Affirmative Action. “Scots is going to rule in the direction it has consistently done: conservative and disenfranchising many. This is part of a broader trend to remove safeguards, ideas and policies that address systemic racism and systemic oppression. It’s frustrating to watch as a segment.
Reversal effect of affirmative action
Reversing affirmative action would affect colleges, universities, and other institutions, including community and public colleges that use race as a factor in admissions practices.
Depending on the Supreme Court ruling, these colleges may have to change their admission policies. Of the 577 public colleges nationwide, more than 100 of them take race into account, along with 100 of the largest private colleges and universities.
It could also replace grants, scholarships, and other mechanisms to help students pay for schools that recognize race. States can also pass laws making race sharing a part of illegal admissions.
All of these factors make many affirmative action advocates concerned that reversing race-conscious admissions would dramatically decrease the enrollment of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students, affecting diversity in the future workforce and representation in industries.
Previous restrictions on affirmative action have led to double-digit declines in enrollment for black and Latinx students. Harvard found that, if reversed, their 2019 student body enrollment would have fewer black and Latinx students. Eight states currently ban affirmative action, and research has found clear effects in the admissions of BIPOC communities to selective colleges, particularly in the medical professions.
“When we wrote [our amicus brief], we thought about this from women of color, particularly the underrepresentation of women of color in certain fields of study and professions, such as STEM. is studying [these fields] Undergrad and graduate programs will translate into the workplace,” Fidiman said.
Without racial consciousness, higher education processes favor access to students to improve their schooling: tutors, better schools, and time to devote to schooling. Its effects extend throughout communities of color.
“The biggest concern is that we live in a society where your ethnic background still affects your experience and sometimes the opportunities available to you,” Fidiman said. “If we don’t consider race as a part of a holistic admissions process, we will leave out people who are incredibly intelligent, ambitious, and hard-working, who might not have had the same opportunities as the more privileged. classmates had.”
The Harvard case highlights the “model minority myth,” in which Asians are superior to other people of color—a narrative used to pit Asians against other races. But “Asian” is not just an identity, and concerns do not reflect reality, especially for marginalized communities like Southeast Asians.
“There is no merit on the facts of the case,” Chen explained. “But at the same time, even if there were solutions [Blum’s] Doesn’t address any real potential issues—removing considerations of race at all. It is not representative of or consistent with the desires and needs of Asian American communities and families.
“It is a tool of white supremacy to create this tension and a dilemma to use the model minority myth to punish and punish black and brown students, discipline, and especially harm black and brown students and families. focused on producing.”
The results will not stop at higher education. Other admissions processes, such as any race-conscious practice of high school or education enrollment, may be at risk. Advocates also fear that affinity groups, ethnic studies classes, and any race-specific spaces may be next. Outside of education, this example can be extended to other areas, such as employment, contracts, and workplace anti-bias training.
And it’s not just race: Reversing affirmative action can set a precedent for other affirmative action policies, such as those for gender and sex.
The Supreme Court is all set to discuss the cases in its second session this fall starting on October 31.
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