The Supreme Court announced this week that it will take up a case challenging racial preferences in the college admission process. This is excellent news, because it means the justices will have the chance to make clear that any form of racial discrimination, even the kind done in the name of “diversity,” is unethical and unconstitutional.
The Court granted certiorari in the case, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit ruled that Harvard did not discriminate against Asian American students. Materials discovered in the course of litigation, however, show widespread evidence that the school did hold Asian American applicants to higher standards in order to boost the admission chances of other minority applicants. For example, a 2018 analysis of 160,000 student records found that Asian-American applicants were consistently given poor personal ratings by Harvard admissions counselors, which significantly decreased these applicants’ chances of being admitted even though their academic and testing scores were much higher than others’.
Harvard itself admitted its admissions policies were discriminatory in a 2013 internal investigation that it tried to hide, according to Students for Fair Admissions, the advocacy group that has been leading the charge on this case for years. The university only released the investigation’s findings when it was forced to, and even then tried to dismiss the report’s findings, claiming it was based on “preliminary and incomplete” data.
Unfortunately, Harvard’s discriminatory admissions standards are common practice among major universities, thanks to Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 Supreme Court case that found colleges could consider diversity as one factor in the admission process, but such preferences could not extend indefinitely. Indeed, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in the majority opinion that “the Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”
The clock is ticking.
But, rather than slowly phase out racial preferences, universities have embraced preferences and made them the core of their admissions processes — to the point where Asian American applicants only have a 25% chance of getting admitted into certain universities, while white students have a 35% chance, Hispanics a 75% chance, and black applicants have a 95% chance, according to Students for Fair Admissions.
The Supreme Court has a chance to correct its flawed ruling in Bollinger and strike down affirmative action once and for all. No student should be judged by the color of his skin instead of the substance of his application, and no university should be allowed to use “diversity” as an excuse for racial separatism.