Affirmative Action

We know the U.S. Supreme Court has abortion on the chopping block. Affirmative action could be next.

On the docket for the term beginning October 3, 2022, the Court will hear a suit against Harvard University for its inclusion of race as a factor in the admissions process. The suit says this violates the Equal Protection Clause, giving Asian (and white) people fewer chances. They want it to stop.

Schools are not allowed to use minority quotas or race-based algorithms for admissions decisions, but places like Harvard can (and do) use race as a tie-breaker when everything else between candidates is equal. These are candidates who aren’t automatic yays or nays. The school can’t admit all of these people (only 2,015 people made it out of 40,248 applications for the Class of 2024), so it has to rely on other factors.

Vox has an example “Suppose, for example, that the tuba player in Harvard’s orchestra is graduating this spring. If two equally qualified applicants apply to Harvard’s incoming class, one of whom plays the tuba and the other plays the clarinet, Harvard might choose to admit only the tuba player because that applicant fills a particular need for the school. That doesn’t mean that tuba players are inherently more valuable than other musicians, or that they are more deserving of admission to Harvard.”

The same goes for race. And it’s not just to make up for the rampant systemic racism in the U.S. In the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court wrote that “numerous studies show that student body diversity promotes learning outcomes, and ‘better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and better prepares them as professionals.’”

And yet, Students for Fair Admissions want SCOTUS to reverse Grutter, to ban any kind of affirmative action. I guess they’d rather admissions decisions only factor in color-blind random coincidences. Tuba players only.

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