Supreme Court appears likely to rule race-based affirmative action in university admissions is unconstitutional

The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in two similar cases involving the practice of race-based affirmative action in the admissions processes of colleges and universities, specifically Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

Though a final decision won’t be rendered until some time next year, it was apparent that the conservative-majority Supreme Court will likely strike down “race-conscious” affirmative action in the admissions process as being unconstitutional, the Daily Wire reported.

That is because, for all intents and purposes, and regardless of any noble original intentions behind the practice, affirmative action is currently little more than government-approved discrimination in favor of members of certain groups who had historically been discriminated against in the past.

More racial discrimination to compensate for prior racial discrimination

The two separate cases were brought by an anti-affirmative action group known as Students for Fair Admissions, which charged that the admissions processes for Harvard discriminate against Asian students and for UNC discriminate against both Asian and White students — both in favor of Black and Hispanic student applicants instead.

The group asserts that Harvard’s practices violate Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating against anybody based on race. Similarly, UNC is accused of being in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment‘s prohibition against racial discrimination and guarantee of equal protection under the laws.

SCOTUSblog reported that Students for Fair Admissions are attempting to convince the Supreme Court to overturn two prior precedents it set that upheld the practice of affirmative action as constitutional.

Those precedents would be 1978’s University of California Regents v. Bakke, which allowed institutions of higher learning to consider race as a factor in admissions, as well as 2003’s Grutter v. Bollinger, which deemed the practice acceptable for the University of Michigan Law School in furtherance of its goal for a more diverse student body.

Given the expressed skepticism and tough questions asked by the conservative-leaning jurists on the high court during the oral arguments, SCOTUSblog concluded that it seems more likely than not that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule in favor of the group and disallow further consideration of race as a main factor in the admissions process for colleges and universities, if not even beyond.

Chance for the court to “correct a wrong” it previously enshrined

The Daily Wire reported that the conservative Heritage Foundation said that these two cases provided an opportunity for the Supreme Court to “correct a wrong that has unfairly punished students across this country seeking to attend the school of their choosing.”

“American colleges and universities should welcome all students who have the academic capabilities, interests, and values to perform well in their institutions,” Lindsey Burke, policy director of the Heritage Foundation Center for Education, told the outlet. “They should reject racial preferences in favor of genuine diversity — a student body admitted based on merit that has a wide range of life experiences and political and philosophical viewpoints, all of which contribute to a robust climate of free expression and academic inquiry on campus.”

Likewise, Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Mike Gonzalez told the Daily Wire, “The college admissions process should be focused on bringing the best and brightest minds to an institution, not making elite liberals feel good about their ‘racial sensitivity,’ which is all the euphemistically named ‘affirmative action’ does.”

“Affirmative action does not solve the problem of why members of some groups fall behind academically. It does not address failing public schools, worsening socioeconomic and family formation issues, or high out-of-wedlock birth rates that hold people down,” he added. “Instead, affirmative action mandates by imperial fiat that a certain percentage of a college must be filled with a certain group.”

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