WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fate of affirmative action for college admissions is now in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.
On Monday, justices heard arguments in a case which could determine whether colleges and universities should be allowed to take race into consideration during the admissions process.
The cases in question center around the University of North Carolina and Harvard University.
Opponents of affirmative action argue it gives an unfair advantage to some minority students.
“We’re trying to eliminate race-based discrimination here,” said Kenny Xu of the group Students for Fair Admissions. “No one should be surprised that we’re trying to make it a more colorblind country where race is less of a factor.”
Supporters of affirmative action argue that, since society is not color blind, those policies are needed to ensure campuses are diverse, and that students from underrepresented cultures and communities get a fair shake.
“Seeking the education benefits of diversity is a compelling interest of the highest order,” North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park said.
UNC students in support of affirmative action say the potential loss of the policy would be a turn towards the past.
“The fact that affirmative action could be overturned, and we could regress to a campus that is more predominantly white- which it already is- but being even more so is honestly scary,” UNC student Sarah Zhang said.
Conservative justices on the Supreme Court appeared to question the legality of affirmative action during Monday’s arguments.
“What do you learn from the mere checking of a box,” Justice Samuel Alito asked.
Meanwhile, the liberal justices defended the use of race in admissions, pointing to the difficulty of achieving diversity on campus without any consideration of race.
“What I’m worried about is that seems to me to have the potential of causing more of an equal protection problem than it’s actually solving,” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said.
The Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative majority, is expected to hand down a ruling in the case by the summer.
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