Tuesday July 05, 2022

US Supreme Court agrees to hear race-based admissions case

January 25, 2022

WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear suits alleging that race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are discriminatory against Asian-American students.

The case takes aim at decades-old affirmative action policies designed to increase African-American enrollment in higher education and promote a more diverse student body.

The nation’s highest court has previously upheld the policies, as recently as 2016. But six of the nine current justices are now conservative-leaning, including three nominated by former president Donald Trump.

A US District Court judge rejected claims in January 2019 that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants. The case was filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions, a group led by conservative white activist Edward Blum, who previously attacked the affirmative action policies at the University of Texas.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Harvard had used personality criteria to favor Black, Hispanic and white applicants over Asian students with similar grades. They argued that if admissions were based just on grades then more Asian students would be admitted to Harvard, a prestigious Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Harvard denied discriminating against Asians but defended its use of broader selection criteria than academic excellence, such as personality, when considering who to admit. Federal Judge Allison Dale Burroughs said that while Harvard’s admissions process is not perfect, it was right -- for now -- to factor in race to form a diverse student body.