Supreme Court Preparing To Rule on the Most Important Cases in Years
(UnitedVoice.com) – The Supreme Court issued a number of important rulings last term that changed the shape of the country. Justices overturned federal abortion protections after five decades, struck down a century-old New York gun law, and expanded the Second Amendment. It’s hard to imagine another term as consequential, but 2023 will bring many critical decisions, including two that will impact colleges.
Affirmative Action on Trial
On Monday, October 31, the SCOTUS heard arguments in two cases dealing with affirmative action, Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC and Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard. In both cases, an activist group sued the schools and asked the High Court to overrule its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision. In that decision, the Justices permitted colleges and universities to use race as a factor in college admissions because the Court ruled that ensuring a diverse student body was a “compelling state interest.” However, in the ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor specifically stated the Court didn’t believe “the use of racial preferences” would be necessary 25 years in the future.
In the case against Harvard, Students for Fair Admission (SFFA) is also asking the SCOTUS to find the admissions practices at the school violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The group believes the school has overemphasized race, punished Asian Americans, and rejected other race-neutral alternative admissions rules.
SFFA would also like the Supreme Court to decide whether a college can reject a race-neutral admissions alternative without determining whether the alternate plan would sacrifice the quality of education or educational benefits of the entire student body’s diversity.
SCOTUS Justices Show Openness
The Supreme Court Justices heard the cases, and the conservative Justices seemed willing to overturn the 2003 precedent in the Bollinger case. According to The New York Times, Justice Clarence Thomas said he kept hearing “the word diversity” but didn’t “have a clue what it means.” Justice Samuel Alito Jr. also sounded perplexed, asking, “What does that mean?”
Fox News reported Alito asked Harvard attorney Seth Waxman why Asian Americans receive lower personal scores than other races. Instead of just answering the question, the lawyer talked around it, which seemed to frustrate the Justice. “I still haven’t heard any explanation for the disparity between the personal scores that are given to Asians,” Alito said.
Experts believe the court will ban affirmative action when the Justices issue their decisions next spring.
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