What is affirmative action? Chicago analysts weighed in on Supreme Court justices hearing case about race in college admissions


CHICAGO (WLS) — Raleigh-based “Students for Fair Admissions” is challenging University of North Carolina practices under Title 6 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits schools from receiving federal funds where racial discrimination is present.

There is also a claim the university is violating the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

“We’re trying to eliminate race-based discrimination here. Nobody should be surprised that we’re trying to create a more color-blind country where race is less of a factor in our country and admissions promotions and hiring,” said Kenny Xu, a Students for Fair Admissions board member.

Xu first became involved in challenges to Harvard’s policies, alleging they were discriminatory to Asian students. That school is also set to appear in court.

“Studies have shown that standardized testing is racially biased towards Black and Latino students particularly, and so if you’re being judged purely on grades and standardized test scores, which are already proven to be based on race and class, then clearly that’s not race-blind admissions either,” said UNC Black Student Movement President Julia Black.

For the most part, Chicago learning institutions have long supported affirmative action in admissions.

The Supreme Court’s conservative bench may show itself again, as was seen in June when it struck down Roe v. Wade.

“It has a very good chance of succeeding with the current court. It has a very good chance of succeeding given public opinion. Most Americans have no clue how these elite schools admit students, and you can even find among some segments of populations of color, that people are less comfortable with the idea that race will matter for college admissions,” said Northwestern University Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy Director Alvin Tillery.

It’s a conundrum that, like so many Supreme Court cases, carries deep political implications just over a week from the midterm elections.

“The reason why this is really a hot issue now is because the Supreme Court has become much more conservative than it was even a year or two years ago. And so issues that were believed to be settled like abortion, like affirmative action are now looking very unsettled. And that’s concerning a lot of people,” said ABC7 Analyst Laura Washington.

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