Supreme Court bars affirmative action in college

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., at dusk
Gary Blakeley via Shutterstock

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action in cases brought against the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. Six of the nine justices agreed that a school’s use of race as a factor when considering applicants for admissions violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Three justices dissented, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was recused from the Harvard case. Jackson, a Harvard graduate and a member of the school’s board of overseers, told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing last year that she planned to recuse herself from the case.

Students For Fair Admissions, a nonprofit advocacy group, filed both lawsuits in 2014, alleging that the schools’ admissions policies discriminated against white and Asian American students.

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How has the Supreme Court ruled on affirmative action in the past? After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court ruled on several occasions that schools could consider race as part of admissions decisions, but the schools could not use it as a quota system to meet diversity goals.

Now, colleges may still hear how a student says race affects his or her life as a part of evaluating the student’s application.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2023, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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