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Supreme Court set to hear case that could eliminate affirmative action

The oral arguments could impact college admissions from coast to coast
High court allows 3-day extension for Pennsylvania ballots
Posted at 3:00 AM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 16:01:42-04

WASHINGTON — What role should race play when you or a loved one applies to college?

In the 1960s, colleges began asking about an applicant's race so that diversity would improve on their campuses.

However, in recent years, it has become controversial — with some arguing the question unfairly impacts students who aren't as diverse.

On Monday, the debate over the practice, which is known as affirmative action, will be front and center at the Supreme Court.

By taking up the case, it's possible justices could outlaw the practice.

THE MAN BEHIND THE LAWSUIT

Meet Edward Blum, a man who lives in rural Maine.

For the last 30 years, he has been trying to end race's influence on everything from elections to college admissions.

In the last several years, he formed a group known as Students for Fair Admissions, which has alleged unfair practices regarding race admissions on college campuses.

"We have asked the high court to end the use of racial preferences in college admissions," Blum told our Joe St. George during an interview at the Supreme Court recently.

On Monday, Blum will be back at the high court for oral arguments.

If he wins, private and state universities nationwide could be prohibited from asking about race going forward.

"We believe that a student's race and ethnicity should not be used to help them or to harm them," Blum said.

Specifically, Blum's cases involve Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

At UNC, Bloom alleges qualified white applicants are unfairly rejected because of their race.

At Harvard, he alleges qualified Asian students are unfairly rejected.

Both universities deny that accusation strongly.

"There are some people who say if you win, you are going to take away opportunities," St. George asked Blum.

"We aren't going to take away any opportunities," Blum insisted.

AGAINST THE LAWSUIT

Many people and institutions disagree with Blum's assertion.

Apple, United Airlines, Starbucks, Uber, Google, and 70+ other companies wrote in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court their concerns about ending affirmative action, fearing a decline in equitable higher education.

"It will be incredibly problematic," Natasha Warikoo, a professor at Tufts University and supporter of affirmative action, said.

Warikoo studies race and says the best way to understand the impact of ending affirmative action is the data collected in states where affirmative action has already been prohibited.

Nine states in the U.S. currently prohibit asking about race in public university admissions.

The University of California and the University of Michigan actually wrote to the Supreme Court this summer saying they have struggled with diversity since they were banned from asking the question years ago.

"There are year-to-year continuous declines in the number of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students on those campuses," Warikoo said.

Don't expect a decision by the court for months.

Justices agreeing to hear the case suggests another landmark decision by the high court could be on the horizon.