The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on whether colleges and universities can consider race in admissions as it agreed to hear the case brought by an anti-affirmative action group against UNC-Chapel Hill. The group, Students for Fair Admissions, alleges UNC-CH discriminated against white and Asian American applicants by using race as a factor in its undergraduate admissions process.
The justices will also hear a similar case against Harvard University brought by the same group. The court consolidated the two cases Monday, allotting a total of one hour for oral arguments.
UNC-CH has defended its race-conscious admissions process in this legal battle for several years.
The case stems from a 2014 lawsuit against UNC by Students for Fair Admissions, which claims the UNC unfairly prioritizes Black and Hispanic students over white and Asian American prospective students. The group is made up of thousands of rejected applicants, prospective students and parents who want race and ethnicity taken out of the college admissions process.
In her ruling, Judge Loretta Biggs said UNC uses a “highly individualized, holistic admissions program” when deciding who gets in and considers race as one of many factors for each applicant. The university’s admissions team has also seriously considered race-neutral strategies, including with recruiting, financial aid and admitting more transfer students, she said.
At the time of the ruling, Students for Fair Admissions’ president Edward Blum vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. He told The New York Times that they would “ask the justices to end these unfair and unconstitutional race-based admissions policies.”