Activists behind the push to end affirmative action are confident that the Supreme Court will overturn precedents upholding race-conscious admissions following oral arguments on Monday.
Students for Fair Admissions, a legal advocacy group which opposes granting applicants an advantage because of their racial identity, has filed complaints against both Harvard University and the University of North Carolina for “employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies and procedures” when accepting students. The lawsuit against Harvard argued that Asian American students require significantly higher standardized test scores than their peers to gain admission to elite schools.
Justice Clarence Thomas and his conservative-leaning colleagues were skeptical that racial diversity truly offers educational benefits and appeared to find arguments offered by North Carolina State Solicitor General Ryan Park largely unpersuasive. Students For Fair Admissions President Edward Blum said during an interview with The Daily Wire that he is optimistic regarding a favorable outcome.
“I thought it was a very deeply engaging argument,” he commented. “I remain hopeful that the arguments that both of our attorneys made will be persuasive to the court, and that ultimately the court will strike down the use of race and ethnicity in college admissions.”
Blum referenced several examples of universities largely attended by a particular racial group, including Spelman College, a historically black school, and the University of Texas San Antonio, a predominantly Hispanic college, and said one would have difficulty proving that students’ experiences are diminished by a lack of peers belonging to other ethnicities. “There are lots of very competitive universities that have virtually no racial diversity,” he noted. “I think if we talked to those students, they would say they purposefully wanted to go to those universities. Having a diverse student body for some is very important. For some, it’s not important at all.”
Color Us United President Kenny Xu, who was instrumental in encouraging residents of California to overwhelmingly reject a ballot measure that would have returned affirmative action to the state, told The Daily Wire that schools embracing affirmative action violate “two sacrosanct principles” of the American experiment.
“The first is, don’t treat anybody by your race. You should be treated by the content of your character, not the color of your skin,” he said. “The second is meritocracy as the basis for the American dream. That is why immigrants come to this country: because they believe that they’re not going to be treated on the basis of their background. Because this is a land of opportunity, and that we will have a chance to work hard and make it in this country.”
Several analyses have uncovered the disadvantages faced by Asian Americans in college admissions processes seeking to reserve places for black and Hispanic students. One study from 2009 concluded that Asians required an SAT score roughly 140 points higher than white applicants, 270 points higher than Hispanic applicants, and 450 points higher than black applicants, according to a report from the Asian American Coalition for Education.
Xu, who was in attendance while the Supreme Court heard oral arguments, noted that strong majorities of Asians, Hispanics, whites, and a near-majority of black voters in California rejected the affirmative action measure, implying that the issue extends beyond ethnic lines. Indeed, nearly three-quarters of Americans believe colleges and universities should not consider race or ethnicity when making admissions decisions, according to a poll from Pew Research.
“We need a really strong ruling from the Supreme Court, not just the unsurprising ruling that Harvard is discriminating and they need to stop doing that. We need to establish some principles,” Xu continued. “We didn’t choose to be born Asian. And what Harvard is doing by trying to judge us on something we can’t control is basically making us ashamed of being Asian. That’s really sad, because no one should be ashamed of their race in this country. Harvard’s policy forces that into consideration.”
Legacy media outlets centered their coverage of the Supreme Court cases on Blum and his conservative leanings. One article from CNN said that he had “designed” the arguments to “reach a friendly Supreme Court,” although Blum affirmed that opposing affirmative action is a policy that crosses racial and partisan lines.
“There’s an old expression: every lawsuit needs a villain, and the corollary to that is every lawsuit needs a hero. I see myself as neither hero nor villain,” Blum commented. “Sometimes media outlets look for a human angle, as opposed to concentrating and focusing on the legal issues and the policy issues. It’s a bit of an intellectually lazy way of going about making a story more interesting.”