Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina ("the UNC case") and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College ("the Harvard case"), which, together, are expected to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger and hold that the use of affirmative action policies in college admissions is unconstitutional.
Happening now: about 100 people, mostly Asian, are gathered in front of the Supreme Court to rally against affirmative action, one day before hearings begin in the Harvard/UNC cases. They are holding signs like: “I am Asian American, I have a dream too” pic.twitter.com/J6f4FKzian— Amy Qin (@amyyqin) October 30, 2022
John Daukas, a former Trump Department of Justice appointee, explained for National Review:
The Court has ruled that institutions cannot use racial preferences to remedy historic societal discrimination, “create a level playing field,” or racially balance student bodies. The only way colleges may use race in admissions is to promote “diversity” — having students of different races on campus to provide manifold views. Thus, in Grutter, the Court held race can be used to promote “diversity” provided race is only one factor in a “holistic, multi-factor” evaluation, is time-limited, and does not involve quotas or racial balancing.
However, our institutions are flouting the standards articulated by Grutter, and race has become the determinative factor for thousands of college applicants each year. There is no such thing as a benign form of racial discrimination: However implemented, it hurts students denied admission due to race. Universities mouth Grutter’s terms — “holistic,” “multi-factor,” “diversity” — and use them for cover as they engage in illegal discrimination.
The UNC case considers the constitutionality of affirmative action policies implemented by public universities, whereas the Harvard case considers the constitutionality of action policies implemented by private universities.
One of the most fiery exchanges of the day was between North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park and Justice Clarence Thomas, a vocal critic of affirmative action:
During arguments involving admissions policies at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Thomas asked state Solicitor General Ryan Park to describe the educational benefit to including race as a factor in college admissions. Park responded that in studies involving stock trading results, "racially diverse groups of people … perform at a higher level."
"The mechanism there is that it reduces groupthink and that people have longer and more sustained disagreement, and that leads to a more efficient outcome," Park said.
Thomas responded, "I guess I don't put much stock in that because I've heard similar arguments in favor of segregation, too."
"I've heard the word diversity quite a few times, and I don't have a clue what it means. It seems to mean everything for everyone," Thomas also stated during his line of questioning.
“I’ve heard the word diversity quite a few times, and I don’t have a clue what it means.”— Will Cain (@willcain) October 31, 2022
— Justice Clarence Thomas asks for a “specific definition” of diversity and its benefits.
Thomas is so so much smarter than those that mock him.
Beyond these cases being two of the most closely watched for the 2022-2023 session, the Harvard case has received special attention because Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson served on Harvard's Board of Overseers for six terms prior to her confirmation to the Supreme Court. Justice Jackson vowed to recuse herself from the Harvard case which was originally consolidated with the UNC case. However, Justice Jackson essentially "un-recused" herself, when the cases were separated.
The takeaway from many pundits is that it is plainly clear that the policies discussed today are unconstitutional.
Picking winners and losers based on race isn't just wrong, it's un-American.— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) October 31, 2022
Clearly, liberal colleges didn't get that memo.
It's time to end these racist practices so that every student can have an equal opportunity to achieve the best life.
8. Come June, the Court will help promote national unity and equal opportunity against the racialist balkanizers. -fin— Ilya Shapiro (@ishapiro) October 31, 2022
"Evidence presented in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College showed that Asian enrollment at Harvard would be up to 50 percent higher if affirmative action were eliminated."https://t.co/vffHWDdkmP— The Article III Project (A3P) (@Article3Project) October 31, 2022
And even supporters of affirmative action are uncomfortable with some of the policies at issue in the case.
I support affirmative action and hate that Asians are being used as the wedge in the attack against it. But, man, re-reading some of the things that Harvard admission officers said about Asian applicants was genuinely cringeworthy. So many stereotypes being thrown about.— Michael Li 李之樸 (@mcpli) October 31, 2022
The full transcript of the UNC case's oral arguments can be read here.
The full transcript of the Harvard case's oral arguments can be read here.