Supreme Court Strikes Down Race-Based College Admissions

WASHINGTON, DC (June 29, 2023): Following a lengthy legal battle, the United States Supreme Court struck a fatal blow to race-based college admissions today. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, colleges cannot consider applicants’ skin color in the admissions process, ending affirmative action. The case was brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina (UNC). Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) filed an amicus brief in support of SFFA, urging the Supreme to reverse years of unconstitutional race-based admissions policies that have allowed colleges to consider applicants’ skin color.

As SLF explained in its brief, Harvard engaged in unconstitutional racial balancing throughout its admissions process. It began by recruiting high school students of certain racial groups and inviting students with lower PSAT scores to apply to the school if they were of African-American or Hispanic-American descent. Once it received applications, the admissions office looked at applicants’ race before advancing or denying their applications. The office even looked at how the demographics of the incoming class were shaping up and advanced or denied applications to balance the racial composition of the class.

The Supreme Court held that this sort of racial balancing is unconstitutional discrimination. According to the Court, “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it,” including considering the color of an applicant’s skin in college admissions.

Director of SLF’s 1A Project Cece O’Leary states, “By focusing on race from the very beginning of a college student’s experience, colleges like Harvard are just teaching students to obsess over race during their time on campus. As a result, we’ve seen more polarization and segregation on campus.”

Fortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision requires colleges to look at other factors beyond race in the admissions process, generating student bodies based on merit.

SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann states, “We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling today. For too long, colleges have engaged in racial discrimination in the name of so-called diversity. It is time that they be held accountable to the Constitution and our nation’s most basic promise of equality.”

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