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Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC & Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard

Post Authored by Hannah Werner

At the end of October, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding affirmative action for a private university (Harvard University) and a public university (University of North Carolina). Here’s what those arguments can mean for admissions:

Under the current Supreme Court holding, a university can consider race with a number of other factors, such as high school GPA, extracurriculars, legacy, and in-state residency. However, race cannot be the deciding factor on a student’s admissions decision. Therefore, if the petitioner (Fair Student Admissions) wins, that race will no longer be considered as a factor when admitting students into university. However, if the defendants prevail, the settled precedent means can continue to consider race as a factor in admissions decisions. 

With the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has indicated a receptiveness to overturning years-long precedent, even on issues that studies show the majority of Americans oppose. For an issue like affirmative action that is more split on approval, there is a chance that the Supreme Court will overturn the current holding on this issue. This potentiality cannot be dismissed given the makeup of the current court- six conservatives versus three liberals.

The Supreme Court will likely not publish its opinion until the spring or summer of 2023, but in the meantime we can only theorize about the conclusion the nine Justices will make regarding affirmative action.

About the Author:

In May of 2020, Hannah graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations and a B.A. in Psychology from Auburn University. After working at Ankin Law Office for almost a year, Hannah discovered an interest in law and joined the Chicago-Kent community. Hannah is currently a 2L representative for the Society of Women in Law, as well as a member of various organizations matching her passions, such as the First-Generation Law Student Association and the Chicago Kent Animal Legal Defense Fund. Following graduation, Hannah looks forward to a career in estate planning, real estate, or business law.

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