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The Supreme Court will hear two affirmative action cases.

Supreme Court to hear two affirmative action cases next term

Jan 24, 2022


The Supreme Court’s latest order list, released Monday, includes two affirmative action cases. The cases, involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC), will be combined for an hour of oral arguments “early in the 2022-23 term, which begins in October.”

“The justices agreed to take up two cases asking them to overrule their landmark 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, holding that the University of Michigan could consider race as part of its efforts to assemble a diverse student body,”  SCOTUSblog writer Amy Howe wrote on the blog’s story on the cases. “The decision to grant review in the two new cases suggests that the court’s conservative majority is poised to do just that.”

Both lawsuits argued the affirmative action policies at Harvard and UNC discriminate against Asian American applicants. The suits were filed by Students for Fair Admissions, a Virginia-based group that has worked for years to rid college admissions of racial considerations. Lower courts rejected the challenges, citing more than 40 years of high court rulings that allow colleges and universities to consider race in admissions decisions as long as they are promoting diversity.

The latest Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action came back in 2016 in the case Fisher v. University of Texas. The court upheld the policy by a narrow 4-3 margin. However, two of the four members who ruled to uphold affirmative action are no longer on the Court, as Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away in 2020. Meanwhile the three dissenters, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, are still on the court. They are now joined by justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, all appointed by former President Donald Trump.