OnPolitics: SCOTUS to hear affirmative action case against Harvard, UNC

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Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on March 12, 2020.
Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on March 12, 2020.

Happy Monday, OnPolitics readers!

Looks like House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy isn't getting his day in court.

The Supreme Court turned away a GOP lawsuit challenging proxy voting rules set up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to the pandemic.

Weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the House approved a measure allowing lawmakers unable to come to Capitol Hill to designate another member as their "proxy" to cast floor votes on their behalf. The decision to not hear the case lets stand a federal appeals court ruling that said courts are barred from reviewing the internal rules of the House of Representatives.

Republicans, led by McCarthy, sued Pelosi, contending that the Constitution does not allow proxy votes. That argument rests in part on the quorum clause, which requires a majority of the House to be present in order to conduct the chamber’s business. That clause also says a group smaller than a quorum may be authorized to "compel" the attendance of "absent members."

It's Amy and Chelsey with today's top stories out of Washington.

Supreme Court to consider use of race in college admissions

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will decide whether the use of race in the admissions process at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violates civil rights law and the Constitution, reviving a controversial legal debate over affirmative action that has been years in the making.

The decision to hear the two cases puts the contentious issue of race-based college admissions before the high court for the first time since 2016.

The lawsuits were filed by an anti-affirmative action group called Students for Fair Admissions, the brainchild of conservative legal strategist Edward Blum. The group charged that Harvard University discriminates against Asian American students in its admissions to boost Black and Hispanic enrollment.

That same group filed a companion case at the high court in November, this time against the University of North Carolina, a public university. The Harvard case alleges violation of a federal law that bars discrimination on the basis of race in programs that receive federal funding. In the North Carolina case, the group alleges the school's policies violate the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal treatment under the law.

When will we hear more? The high court did not say when it will consider the affirmative action suits, but given the number of cases already queued up for argument this year, there's a good chance the justices won't take the matter up until its next term, which begins in October.

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Real Quick: stories you'll want to read

Families of U.S. embassy staff members in Ukraine told to return home

The State Department Sunday instructed families of staffers at the U.S. embassy in Ukrainian capital Kyiv to go home amid rising tensions with neighboring Russia.

The order came hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken again promised that the U.S. and NATO will back Ukraine should Russia invade.

During a Sunday morning interview on CNN, Blinken also said that "the choice is Vladimir Putin’s" as to whether war in Ukraine is inevitable.

Biden is also considering deploying U.S. troops, warships and aircraft to the Baltics and Eastern Europe, but a decision has not been finalized.

Putin has positioned over 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border over several demands – namely that The North Atlantic Treaty Organization bar Ukraine from ever joining the alliance.

State Department officials stressed Sunday’s announcement does not constitute an evacuation and that the Kyiv embassy will remain open.

It's tax season, everybody! Here's what to know about filing taxes and the fastest way to a refund. — Amy and Chelsey

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court will hear affirmative action case against Harvard, UNC

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