The Supreme Court should uphold affirmative action in its recent hearing of both Students for Fair Admissions V. Harvard as well as Student for Fair Admissions V. University of North Carolina. While it has been argued that the race based affirmative action policies at these schools discriminate against Asian American students that have applied there, this is simply untrue. These policies ensure that the student bodies of institutions of higher learning are diverse and the students there are able to learn from the different backgrounds of their peers. Making the mistake of believing that allowing students of one racial background automatically discriminates against students of another background is problematic. This way of thinking can lead people to believe that affirmative action policies are holding them back when in fact they are there to benefit those with minority backgrounds. The problem with admissions in these institutions is not their preference given to racial minorities, it is their preference given to legacy admissions that take away spots from deserving applicants.
On October 31st, the Supreme Court heard both the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) V. Harvard case as well as the SFFA V. University of North Carolina. Both cases have the chance to overturn affirmative action policies in college admissions across the country. The difference in these cases, and the reason that they have not been combined into a single case, is that Harvard is a private institution while the University of North Carolina is a public institution, so there are different federal standards that they are held to. During the verbal arguments, many of the justices seemed ready to rule that race-influenced admissions “were unlawful”, a sign that affirmative action policies have numbered days (NYT). Questions were not aimed at what affirmative action policies entail but rather when they would “end” with lawyers for SFFA suggesting it end with the graduating class of 2028, who would be admitted in 2024 (NYT). The liberal leaning justices — Justice Elana Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomyer, and Justice Katanji Brown Jackson — questioned whether race being taken into account in admissions was any different from an applicant being “parents, veterans, or disabled” and whether outlawing affirmative action would cause a “decline in minority admissions” in higher institutions (NYT).
Questions from the other justices also touched on possible admissions policy replacements to affirmative action such as “top 10 programs,” where students in the top 10 percent of their high school receive automatic admission to state schools in the state where they live (NYT). However, from my own personal experience living in the state of Texas where this policy is in place, this will not help increase the rate of diversity in universities. Specifically, parents who wish for their student to receive this automatic admission to a state school, but their student does not have the grades for it, are known to simply transfer their student to another school where they are in the top ten percent of the student body there. These schools are normally majority-minority where students who have gone there all four years of high school, generally have fewer resources and rely on the top 10 program to get to college. This
process of transferring students in their last year of high school, if not last semester, is only accessible to those with the resources to do so, which includes the money and time to complete the process as well as the transportation required to get the student to the new school. This takes away the opportunities given to minority students at these schools as they are pushed out of the top ten percent of their class by those who have the resources to transfer their student to a less-performing school.
The danger posed to affirmative action policies by the Supreme Court is immense and if ruled unlawful poses a danger to much of the nation in terms of education. With fewer minorities having access to higher institutions of learning, the less diverse the classroom at that level becomes. And without differing perspectives given as learning opportunities for everyone, less will be learned from peers as they may all come from the same background, and diverse perspectives will be pushed to the side, if not silenced totally.
If you are in need of help with affirmative action rulings, contact an experienced attorney today at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for help.