The decision stemmed from two lawsuits challenging the consideration of race in college admissions

By Anna Staver

The U.S. Supreme Court struckdown affirmative action Thursday, overturning more than 40 years of legal precedent that race can play a limited role in college admissions.

The court rules that Harvard and the University of North Carolina admissions programs violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The decision stemmed from two lawsuits challenging the consideration of race in college admissions: Students For Fair Admissions v. the University of North Carolina and SFFA v. Harvard.

The plaintiffs in both cases argued that the 14th Amendment prohibited institutions from using any racial preferences in their admissions processes and that Section VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act reaffirmed that for any school receiving federal funds.

How affirmative action works

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a different affirmative action case called Grutter v. Bollinger, ruling that race could play a limited role in college admissions.

Quota systems, where specific numbers of seats are allocated to people with certain racial backgrounds, were banned. And colleges couldn’t use “point systems” that awarded minority applicants precise advantages.

However, higher institutions could, according to that ruling, take a “holistic” approach that considered “all pertinent elements of diversity.” That meant race could function as a tiebreaker between two similarly qualified students.

UNC, for example, told the court it reviews more than 40 criteria when evaluating student applications, including athletic abilities and whether they served in the military. Sometimes minority candidates were chosen to enhance the diversity of an incoming class, but sometimes priority was given to veterans or students from rural parts of the state.

How a ban could change college admissions in Ohio

Nine states, including California and Michigan, already have prohibitions on race-conscious college admissions, but Ohio does not.

Still, the majority of Ohio’s public universities don’t consider an applicant’s race or ethnicity, according to the Common Data Set. Only three of Ohio’s 14 public universities reported considering the race of potential students.

When asked by reporters, most university leaders refrained from speculating how the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision could affect their campuses, saying they’ve found other, more “holistic” ways to expand opportunities for diverse students.

This story will be updated

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: