The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hear two cases on whether the consideration of race in college admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) violates civil rights.
A ruling against the schools could affect affirmative action programs and racial diversity at public and private universities throughout the country.
Arguments are set to be held in the fall, according to NBC.
The lawsuits were filed by the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a Virginia-based group pushing for the court to repeal its 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the University of Michigan’s law school admissions policy of considering applicants’ race in the interest of a diverse student body.
“Harvard uses race at every stage of the admissions process,” Students for Fair Admissions wrote in its petition asking the court to hear Harvard’s case. “African-American and Hispanic students with PSAT scores of 1100 and up are invited to apply to Harvard, but white and Asian-American students must score a 1350. … In some parts of the country, Asian-American applicants must score higher than all other racial groups, including whites, to be recruited by Harvard.”
“Like Harvard, UNC is devoted to using race indefinitely and at every stage of its admissions process,” SFFA said in a press release.
Harvard responded to SFFA’s petition by arguing that the university’s admission process did not discriminate against Asian American applicants.
“Most applicants have strong test scores and grades; to admit every applicant with a perfect GPA, Harvard would need to expand its class fourfold and reject all other applicants, regardless of their other academic credentials, talents, or life experiences and perspectives,” it said.
“The consideration of race only ever benefits students who are otherwise highly qualified, and it is not decisive even for those candidates,” Harvard added.
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