The Manhattan Institute (MI) hosted a virtual event covering the Supreme Court’s blockbuster decision in two cases that challenge the use of racial preferences in higher-education admissions. A group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina—the nation’s oldest private and public universities, respectively—over their affirmative action policies, which the group contends are unconstitutional because they discriminate against Asian Americans. The challengers argue that the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI—the federal law that forbids race discrimination by private educational institutions that receive federal funding—require a race-neutral approach to accepting potential students.
In the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, the Supreme Court turned back a constitutional challenge to the use of race in admissions, allowing race to be considered as one of many factors. In 2003, the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger again narrowly upheld race-conscious admission practices, provided that they are “narrowly tailored” to further student-body diversity. The Court noted, however, that public universities' use of such admissions policies "must be limited in time."
Watch our virtual post-decision analysis on SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC, featuring Gail Heriot, MI book fellow, member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and University Professor at the San Diego School of Law; and Wai Wah Chin, MI adjunct fellow and founding president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York. The event was moderated by Ilya Shapiro, MI senior fellow and director of constitutional studies. Ed Blum, founder of SFFA and architect behind this litigation, was unable to attend.