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Supreme Court will consider landmark challenge to Harvard, UNC affirmative action policies

The education admission policy cases have been making their way through the courts for years

Published: January 24, 2022 11:21am

Updated: January 24, 2022 11:52am

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will reconsider race-based affirmative action in college admissions, a decision that could eliminate a practice that in recent years primarily benefitted black and Hispanic applicants.

The high court says it will hear challenges to policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that use students' race as one criteria to decide who should gain admission. 

In the case against Harvard, challengers say the same practices that have for close to four decades helped black and Hispanic students — not necessarily applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds — gain admissions have hurt Asian-American applicants. 

The cases would be heard during the fall 2022 session, with a decision likely by June 2023. The case was first developed in 2014 by the advocacy group Students for Fair Admissions.

Lower courts have previously sided with Harvard and the University of North Carolina, though Chief Justice John Roberts has historically opposed racial preferences, including in education. Lawyers for the universities, as well as the Justice Department have urged the high court to reject the appeals cases. 

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