Supreme Court examines the constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions

New rulings could drastically change the college admissions process


The Supreme Court of the United States will soon issue a ruling that will decide if affirmative action shall remain prominent in college admissions decisions. On Oct. 31, 2022, the Supreme Court heard arguments from two cases: Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina.

Many colleges and universities throughout the nation strive to create a diverse student body; however, this involves the race and ethnicity of students to be used as a deciding factor in college admissions decisions, known as affirmative action. 

 “[Affirmative action] allows colleges to consider the race of highly-qualified applicants in admissions to promote the benefits of diverse learning environments,” the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said.

In response to years of race-determined college decisions, SFFA filed a court case against both Harvard and UNC. SFFA is a group of over 20,000 students who believe that affirmative action in college admissions is unconstitutional and damaging to the progress of racial equality.

“Our mission is to support and participate in litigation that will restore the original principles of our nation’s civil rights movement: A student’s race and ethnicity should not be factors that either harm or help that student to gain admission to a competitive university,” SFFA said. 

SFFA argues that Harvard and UNC are in violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, specifically Title VI. 

“[Title VI] prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance,”  The United States Department of Justice said.

However, some argue that the elimination of affirmative action will result in a significant lack of racial diversity on college campuses. This argument is made by the Legal Defense Fund, as they believe that without affirmative action, applicants of color will not be considered as they should in admission decisions, and schools will have predominantly white student populations.

“Based on modeling from the Class of 2019, if Harvard were to stop considering race, the number of Black, Latino, Native, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students would drop by nearly 50%,” the Legal Defense Fund said.

The Supreme Court is expected to make its decision in late June or early July of 2023, as largely impactful decisions such as this are commonly announced at the end of the term. For future college applicants in the high school class of 2024 and beyond, this ruling can have major implications on their admissions decisions. 

To learn more about his important ruling, listen to the audio recordings of both the UNC and Harvard hearings as the Supreme Court decides its ruling on this matter.