Supreme Court Makes Big Move

( The Supreme Court may not rest on its laurels in an upcoming term, as the justices are considering taking up a case with wide-ranging implications on the topic of race in college admissions.

On Monday, the justices decided to hold off on making a decision on whether to hear an appeal that claims Harvard discriminated against applicants who are Asian American.

Before they decide what they’ll do, the Supreme Court justices have asked the Department of Justice to give its two cents on the case. That process alone could take several months to complete.

If the court does agree to hear the appeal, it could have huge implications for college admissions practices across the country, depending on the decision.

Gregory Garre, an attorney who defended the admissions program at the University of Texas twice before the Supreme Court, commented:

“It would be a big deal because of the nature of college admissions across the country and because of the stakes of having this issue before the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court actually weighed an affirmative action case regarding higher education only five years ago. However, with three new justices on the court — all of them conservative appointees of former President Donald Trump’s — the justices could decide to hear another one.

That last case involved Texas. The ruling was a 4-3 decision that reaffirmed that universities and colleges could in fact consider race when they were making decisions for admissions.

However, the Supreme Court ruling said that could only be done in a way that was tailored narrowly so that it promoted diversity on campus. In addition, the schools would have to show why it was appropriate that they considered race in their decisions.

The ruling in effect rejected the claims of discrimination that the white applicant brought before the court.

Liberals held the majority in the court during that decision, though, and two of those justices are no longer serving. In 2018, Anthony Kennedy retired. Last September, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away.

In addition, the three dissenting justices in that case — Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — are all still serving on the Supreme Court. They are joined by three other conservative justices and Trump appointees — Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch — to form the current conservative majority.

Affirmative action in college admissions dates back more than 40 years now. The first case went before the Supreme Court in 1978.

Justice Lewis then set the rationale for colleges being allowed to take race into account, though the court barred higher education institutions from using racial quotas when they were doing their admissions.

Another case regarding Harvard upheld the admissions program for the law school at the University of Michigan.

The current case regarding Harvard is being brought by Students for Fair Admissions. They claim Harvard has imposed a “racial penalty” on applicants who are Asian American.

The group says Harvard scores them lower systematically in some categories than applicants. They also claim the school at the same time has “massive preferences” to Hispanic and Black applicants.