American Exceptionalism And/In Affirmative Action

By Lucy Williams.

In 2014, a nonprofit group called Students for Fair Admissions (“SFFA”) filed two lawsuits challenging the use of race in university admissions. In one suit, against Harvard College, SFFA alleged that Harvard’s admission policies violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by favoring white, Black, and Hispanic applicants over similarly qualified Asian American applicants. In the other, against the University of North Carolina (“UNC”), the group alleged that UNC’s race-conscious admissions policies violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. In both cases, SFFA urged that the challenged admissions practices did not satisfy strict scrutiny, the standard for race-based classifications articulated in Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. and Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña. SFFA also requested that the courts overrule Grutter v. Bollinger—a 2003 case which held that student body diversity “is a compelling [governmental] interest that can justify the narrowly tailored use of race in selecting applicants for admission to public universities.” Full Article