Advocacy group seeks SCOTUS fast-tracking of race-based college admissions case

In a potentially significant development impacting the fate of race-conscious college admissions, an advocacy group seeking to overturn the use of such policies filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to fast-track and link its consideration of cases involving two separate institutions, as the Washington Free Beacon reports.

The group, Students for Fair Admissions, has requested that the justices at the high court speed consideration of a case against the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) race-based admissions processes that is still making its way through the lower courts and review the matter together with a similar challenge involving Harvard University, of which the organization sought review earlier this year.

As the Harvard Gazette noted in June, the Supreme Court delayed its decision on whether to hear arguments in the case related to that school’s admissions policies, instead requesting submission of a brief from the U.S. solicitor general outlining the government’s views on the issues implicated.

According to Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, if the high court does hear the case involving Harvard, a private educational institution, it should also consider the question of racial preferences in admissions in the context of a public school, of which UNC is one.

The cases in question ask that the affirmative action decision in the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the justices held that institutions of higher learning could consider race as a single factor among a series of others, doing so on a case-by-case basis.

The petition filed on Thursday argues that “This case and Harvard should be heard together. The first question presented in both cases in the same: whether this Court should overrule Grutter and hold that institutions of higher education cannot use race as a factor in admissions.”

“This Court can resolve that momentous question in either case. But if it decides to revisit Grutter, its analysis would be more complete if it considered both a private university (Harvard) and a public university (UNC)…” the filing went on to say.

While both the Harvard case and the UNC case were filed on the very same day in 2014, the Harvard matter progressed through the court system rather more rapidly than its counterpart case, which took seven years to even reach the trial stage. Hearing these cases together, the petitioners argue, aligns with what occurred in Grutter, where separate cases involving admissions at the University of Michigan’s law school and its undergraduate programs were fast-tracked and reviewed together.

Whether or not the Supreme Court entertains the motion to link these two cases together, it appears likely that the question of affirmative action in college admissions policies is potentially poised to reach the justices in the near future via other pending disputes, and hopefully, the unjust practice of conferring or denying critical educational benefits on the basis of race is eradicated once and for all.