Courts hear arguments in affirmative action case

Supreme Court Justices heard hours of arguments in favor and against affirmative action
Monday marked the first day of oral arguments in the case to decide whether affirmative action should be overruled.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (WBTV) - Monday was the first day of oral arguments in the case to decide whether affirmative action should be overruled, and race not be considered in college admissions.

Multiple landmark Supreme Court cases, including Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), ruled that race can be used as a factor in college admissions, but it cannot be the only factor or used to set a quota for the number of minority students.

In addition, the landmark Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) determined that an applicant’s race as one factor in admission to a public institution did not violate the Equal Protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment in the Constitution.

Edward Blum is the president of the organization Students for Fair Admissions and the plaintiff in two cases that were presented to the Supreme Court on Monday, Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students For Fair Admissions v. UNC-Chapel Hill.

Blum is challenging the precedent established in previous Supreme Court cases and believes that affirmative action has led to discrimination against Asian American students and that race should not be a factor in college admissions.

“A student’s race shouldn’t be something that is used in gaining admission to a college,” Blum said.

[Related: Supreme Court justices raise doubts on race-conscious college admissions]

He is challenging the admissions policies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. He believes that Asian American and White students have been discriminated against during the admissions process.

The Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill, Kevin M. Guskiewicz, addressed the media Monday afternoon following hours of oral arguments.

“We recognize one of the fundamental values of our institution is diversity,” Gukiewicz said. “We made this case today on behalf of thousands of other colleges and universities around the country who rely on the opportunity to use a holistic admissions process that allows us to use race as one of many factors”

“It is our hope that colleges will lower the bar a little bit for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, that makes college admissions much fairer, and that I think is what the American Civil Rights idea is all about,” Blum said in contrast.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of NC both filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court this summer pleading with the Court to uphold college and universities’ abilities to consider race in college admissions.

“We have real concerns about what this decision could mean for the future not just for the diversity of education but thinking about all the professions down the line,” said Kristi Graunke, who is the legal director of the ACLU of NC.

Graunke also shared her fears that diversity will not be upheld and that colleges and universities will struggle to maintain diverse environments.

“The permissible scope of race-conscious admissions has been narrowed to such a degree by the court that it will be a very difficult road forward for colleges to consider diversity in admissions in any way with racial diversity at least,” she said.

Livingstone College’s Chair of History and Political Science departments Dr. Hasan Crockett agrees with the ACLU and believes this could present legal issues in the future.

“It is a problem because you’re setting a legal precedent; you are legally preventing schools to use race as a factor in admissions,” Crockett said.

The Supreme Court’s final opinion is expected next summer.