The Supreme Court has announced that it will reconsider race-based affirmative action in college admissions, a decision that could eliminate a practice that in recent years has primarily benefitted black and Hispanic applicants.
The high court will specifically listen to challenges to policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) that use race as one criteria to determine which students should be granted admission.
The Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which has filed these lawsuits, say that Harvard and UNC's admissions policies discriminate unfairly against Asian-Americans and white applicants. SFFA says that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.
They argue that these practices which have been in use for almost 40 years help blacks and Hispanics gain admission, but they do not necessarily benefit applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, like the proponents argue.
Lower courts have historically sided with Harvard and UNC over the last several years. However, Chief Justice John Roberts has traditionally opposed racial preferences, including in education, so he could play a critical role in the courts decision this year.
The lawyers for the universities, along with the Justice Department, have pleaded to the high court to reject these appeals.
The cases are scheduled for the fall 2022 session, with a decision being rendered sometime in June 2023.
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