The Supreme Court on Oct. 31 will hear cases from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina to allow consideration of race in their admission processes.
Students for Fair Admissions, the group that brought the lawsuits against Harvard and UNC, claims that Asian Americans are unfairly disadvantaged by the universities' policies and are admitted at a lower rate than white applicants despite having higher test scores, on average.
Officials for UNC argued last month there are "dozens" of factors that the university "may consider as it brings together a class that is diverse along numerous dimensions — including geography, military status, and socioeconomic background."
Twenty-five Harvard student and alumni organizations wrote a brief in July saying race-conscious admissions are best for ensuring effective "participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation."
The two affirmative action cases represent the Supreme Court's first on the issue since the conservative supermajority was established under former President Donald Trump, The Washington Examiner noted.
In the previous 2016 case that upheld affirmative action precedent, Fisher v. University of Texas, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts voted against the precedent.
President Joe Biden's Justice Department has urged the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action policies. The lawsuits led by Students for Fair Admissions have also been supported in a separate brief filed by 82 Republican lawmakers in May, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., The Washington Examiner reported.
Diverse admissions policies at universities assist in training future business leaders, according to a separate filing by 80 major corporations, including Google, Meta, Pinterest, Uber, and Apple. The companies claimed their diversity and inclusion efforts "depend on university admissions programs that lead to graduates educated in racially and ethnically diverse environments."
"Only in this way can America produce a pipeline of highly qualified future workers and business leaders prepared to meet the needs of the modern economy and workforce," the coalition of corporations wrote.
A group of 35 retired military officers requested that service academies continue to factor race in admissions decisions, according to court records.
Allowing affirmative action policies aids the military's goal of creating a diverse officer corps, the military officials say.
"History has shown that placing a diverse Armed Forces under the command of homogenous leadership is a recipe for internal resentment, discord, and violence," the officials wrote. "By contrast, units that are diverse across all levels are more cohesive, collaborative, and effective."
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