“schools are insisting that, without considering race, minority admissions will plummet”
Schools used to downplay this idea. Now that the ruling has come down, they are changing their tune.
Professor Jonathan Turley writes:
The Affirmative Aftermath: Schools Now Insist that Race had a Major Impact in Admissions
There is an interesting debate unfolding around the country in the aftermath of the Supreme Court barring the use of race in college admissions. For decades, colleges and universities have sought to downplay the weight given to race in court while insisting that it was one of a number of factors used in maintaining diversity. Now, however, schools are insisting that, without considering race, minority admissions will plummet.
During the Supreme Court oral arguments over affirmative action, Harvard’s counsel Seth Waxman struggled with an argument that race consideration was needed to maintain current admissions for minorities. Yet, he also maintained that it was not a major factor and that the consideration of race with regard to Asian students produced only a “slight disparity” and “had no effect with respect to outcomes.”
It was no easy argument. As in past cases, the Court was assured that it was just one of a number of “tips” that was not substantial in the decisions. Yet, after the Court barred the use of race criteria, schools are now arguing that it will make a massive difference and substantially reduce minority admissions.
Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court has ruled that race could not be a determinative or major factor in admissions. In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Court ruled against affirmative action. In his plurality decision, then-Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. stopped short of barring the use of race in admissions entirely. Instead, he cited Harvard University’s admissions policy as an example of how race can be one of a number of diversity elements.
In the 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court upheld Michigan’s use of race but then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor cautioned 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.” That was 20 years ago.
Since that time, universities have insisted that they only use race as one of many factors and that it does not carry the determinative weight rejected in Bakke. For decades, universities and colleges maintained this difficult line of downplaying the importance of race in admissions.
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