- by theguardian
- 24 Mar 2023
The survival of affirmative action in higher education appeared to be in serious trouble on Monday at a conservative-dominated US supreme court after hours of debate over difficult questions of race.
The court is weighing challenges to admissions programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University that use race among many factors in seeking a diverse student body.
The supreme court has twice upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 19 years, including just six years ago.
But that was before the three appointees of former president Donald Trump joined the nine-member bench. After Barrett was nominated to replace the late liberal champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg shortly before the 2020 presidential election and was confirmed by the Senate, the court had a conservative supermajority. Jackson was nominated this year by Joe Biden.
Lower courts have upheld the programs at both UNC and Harvard, rejecting claims that the schools discriminated against white and Asian American applicants.
The cases are brought by the conservative activist Edward Blum, who also was behind an earlier affirmative action challenge against the University of Texas as well as the case that led the court in 2013 to end the use of a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
Blum formed Students for Fair Admissions, which filed the lawsuits against both schools in 2014.
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