The Supreme Court severely curtailed the use of affirmative action in higher education, ruling that universities cannot explicitly consider race in granting admission and effectively reversing nearly 50 years of precedent. The 6-person majority’s opinion is likely to radically transform the college admissions process.
Justices heard two cases in October 2022 on affirmative action, one on race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and one from the University of North Carolina. The immediate question in the two lawsuits was whether the Court should overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 case that held that race may play a limited role in college admissions. Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion today does not explicitly overrule that precedent, but it finds that the two universities’ programs violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Though the Court said colleges may still consider how race has affected an individual’s life, they left few to no practical avenues to do so.
Affirmative action has been used for more than half a century by colleges and universities, initially to encourage the participation of historically marginalized groups and mitigate the effects of decades of segregation by university systems.
Decades of research supports the conclusion that more diverse campuses benefit all students, but colleges continue to struggle to foster diversity. Advocates say affirmative action is still necessary even as America rapidly diversifies.
This is a developing story. Follow here for news and updates on the fallout of the affirmative action decision.