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  • NC Education Lawyer

Affirmative Action and its Impact on College Admissions


The Supreme Court is currently examining a case, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. University of North Carolina, et al., regarding the use of race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Affirmative action has long been a controversial policy, with people both for and against it.


What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action is a policy that was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to address past discrimination based on gender or race. It aimed to ensure equal opportunity for all qualified individuals regardless of their background. Affirmative action has since evolved to include other protected classes such as veterans and disabled persons. The policy requires employers to take proactive steps to recruit and hire individuals from underrepresented groups. In the context of college admissions, affirmative action seeks to create a more diverse student population by taking into account an applicant’s background when considering admission decisions.


The Current Case

Students for Fair Admissions ("SFFA") is an organization founded in 2014 by Edward Blum, a conservative legal activist who has also challenged affirmative action policies at Harvard, UT Austin, and other universities. In 2014, SFFA filed a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC") alleging that their admission policies discriminated against Asian-American applicants in violation of violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During oral argument, Justices Alito and Kavanaugh expressed skepticism about UNC’s use of race in its admissions process while Justice Kagan argued that race should still be considered when making admission decisions.


Implications for College Admissions

If the Supreme Court rules against affirmative action, it could have major implications for college admissions across the country. This could potentially reduce diversity among students at universities and limit opportunities for minorities who have traditionally relied on affirmative action policies in order to gain access to higher education institutions that may otherwise be out of reach due to their socio-economic backgrounds or lack of family connections. On the other hand, some people argue that eliminating these policies would make college admissions fairer since all applicants would be judged solely on their academic merits without regard for race or gender.


The outcome of this case will affect how colleges consider applications from all types of students from different backgrounds – including those from underrepresented groups – when making admission decisions. No matter what decision is made by the Supreme Court about affirmative action, it is important that colleges continue to strive for diversity amongst their student body in order to give everyone an equal chance at success through higher education opportunities no matter their background or identity.

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