Upcoming Supreme Court Cases Could Put Affirmative Action on the Chopping Block

Two cases could permanently alter the racial composition of college classrooms in the United States Supreme Court will soon be heard.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases involving the abolition of asbestos this fall Harvard UniversityThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)They argue that affirmative actions policies at both schools are discriminatory.

The cases allege the universities break the law by looking at race, with a preference given to Indigenous, Black, and Latinx applicants — discriminating against white and Asian candidates.

Race is being used as an argument against Harvard, especially in the case against Asian Americans. It claims that the university works to ensure diversity in each class and penalizes Asian Americans whose performance is better than those from other communities.

These cases will be handled separately by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is a graduate of Harvard and a current member of the university’s Board of Overseers and said she will recuse herself from that case.

The Case Against Affirmative Action

Since its introduction, affirmative action is controversial. Higher education institutions adopted it in the 1960sto diversify their student body, and the practice has been a frequent subject of litigation.

Students for Fair Admissions, run by Edward Blum (a conservative legal strategist), is responsible for bringing both cases up to the Supreme Court. Blum has dedicated his career to this cause. running cases against affirmative action racial equity, and he took Fisher v. University of Texas2015, to the Supreme Court. In that case, Abigail Fisher, a white woman, alleged she was unfairly rejected from the University of Texas at Austin because of race, but the court didn’t agree.

This was in accordance with previous rulings. In 2003’s Grutter v. BollingerA white woman claimed that she was unfairly denied admission to her university of choice due to her race. The university also discriminated against white people, violating the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that race was a factor in deciding whether a student is accepted. This highlights the importance of student diversity.

“[It] recognized a diverse student body as a compelling interest, so considering race as one factor in a holistic process should be narrowly tailored to meeting that interest,” said Bayliss Fiddiman, the director of educational equity and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

Affirmative Actions are Protected

Despite what conservative pundits claim in their talking points, race-conscious practices like affirmative action don’t mean students of color are immediately accepted into a university or that standards are lowered to admit people of a certain ethnicity. In higher education admissions, race is only one factor.

Affirmative Action is overwhelmingly supportedIt has been supported by many people across the U.S. civil rights groupsLegal professionals and educational professionalsand their unions. Even big 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 and organizations, trade unions and legal bodies, have submitted amicus briefs to SCOTUS asking for assistance in the matter. Harvard UNCcases to keep the practice.

The Supreme Court, a conservative-leaning court, has already overturned longstanding precedents in its current term. It overturned abortion rights. A ruling against affirmative actions would be a major change GrutterIdentify and implicate any previous cases involving affirmative action or education

“The merits of this case have already been argued thoroughly. Affirmative action has been upheld for decades; that’s not what’s under debate,” said Sally Chen, the education equity program manager at Chinese for Affirmative Action. “SCOTUS is going to rule in the direction that it has been doing so consistently: conservative and disenfranchising a lot of fundamental rights. It’s disheartening seeing this as part of a broader trend of removing protections, considerations, and policies that address systemic racism and systemic oppression.”

The Impact of Reversing Affirmative Action

Colleges, universities, and other institutions that use race in admissions decisions, would be affected if affirmative action is repealed.

These colleges could be required to modify their admission policies depending upon how the Supreme Court rules. There are 577 public colleges in the country. more than 100 of themRace is an important consideration. 100 largest private colleges and universities.

It could also affect scholarships, grants, and other funding mechanisms that help students pay for schools that are racially diverse. States could even pass legislation that makes it illegal to share race in admissions.

These factors are causing affirmative action advocates to be concerned that changing admissions policies to make race-conscious admissions will result in a dramatic drop of enrollment from Black, Latinx, or Indigenous students. This would impact diversity in future workforces, and representation in industries.

Previous bans on affirmative-action were shown a double-digit decreaseAdmissions of Black and Latinx Students Harvard found that, if it was overturned, Harvard would agree. their 2019 student body admissionsThere would have been fewer Latinx and Black students. Eight statesCurrently, affirmative action is prohibited. research has foundThere are clear benefits in the enrollment of BIPOC communities in selective colleges, particularly in medical professions.

“When we wrote [our amicus brief]We thought about it from the perspective of women of colour, specifically the underrepresentation in certain fields of study or professions like STEM. Studying [these fields] in undergrad and grad programs will translate into the workplace,” Fiddiman said.

Higher education does not require racial consciousness. Students with higher education have the opportunity to access tutors, better schools and more time for schooling. This is true for all communities of colour.

“The biggest concern is that we live in a society where your racial background still influences your experience and at times the opportunities available for you,” Fiddiman said. “If we don’t consider race as one part of a holistic admissions process, we’ll leave out people who are incredibly intelligent, ambitious, and hard working who might not have had the right opportunities that more privileged classmates had.”

The Harvard case highlights the “model minority myth,” in which Asians outperform other people of color — a narrative used to pit Asians against other races. But Asians can be proud of their Asian heritage. isn’t just one identity, and the concerns don’t reflect reality, especially for marginalized communitiesLike Southeast Asians.

“On the facts of the case there’s no merit,” Chen explained. “But at the same time, even if there were, the solutions [Blum’s] calling for — removing race consideration at all — does not address any actual potential issues. It’s not representative of or aligned with what Asian American communities and families want and need.

“It’s a tool of white supremacy that is focused on creating this tension and punishing Black and brown students and creating a dichotomy to use the model minority myth to punish, discipline, and harm particularly Black and brown students and families.”

The consequences won’t stop in higher education. Other admissions processes, such as high schools and any race-conscious practice of education enrollment, could also be at risk. Advocates are also concerned about affinity groups, ethnic studies classes, or any other race-specific space. This precedent could be extended to other areas, such as employment, contracting, or anti-bias training for the workplace.

And it’s not just race: overturning affirmative action could set precedent on other affirmative policies, like those for gender and sex.

The Supreme Court will discuss the cases in their entirety. second sessionThis fall, which begins Oct. 31, starts

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