SCOTUS will hear a key affirmative action case

Fox News reports that the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have decided to hear a case that could lead to the end of affirmative action admissions practices by universities. 

The case is Students for Fair Admissions Inc. (SFFA) v. President & Fellows of Harvard College. 

Background

This case goes all the way back to 2014. At the time, SFFA sued Harvard for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance.”

The overarching claim is that Harvard made it more difficult for Asian Americans to be admitted because they did not want their student body to have too many Asian Americans.

After an initial legal victory for the SFFA, the group has suffered defeat at the higher court levels.

Most recently, the SFFA brought the case to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in Harvard’s favor because the university’s program “does not penalize Asian Americans, engage in racial balancing, overuse race, or neglect race-neutral alternatives.”

As a last resort, the SFFA has now appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The latest

The justices have decided to hear the case on Oct. 31.

The big question the justices will tackle is whether race-based affirmative action admissions practices, under the U.S. Constitution, ought to be allowed. This will require the justices to reconsider Grutter v. Bollinger, a case from 2003.

In Grutter, the court ruled that using racial preferences in university admissions practices does not violate the Constitution so long as the practices are narrowly tailored to further compelling interests, such as the education benefits that are said to result from having a diverse student body.

There is a possibility that the justices, in deciding the SFFA case, could overturn Grutter, which could have a huge impact on university admissions practices.

Experts believe that it is unlikely that race-based admissions practices would be completely eradicated, even if the court does rule in favor of the SFFA. But, such a victory would certainly be a step in the right direction.

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