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Is affirmative action in university admissions about to end? As the United States Supreme Court prepares to decide lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC), the outlook for race-conscious admissions policies is not good. Even before its recent rightward shift, the Court had long been hostile to such policies, and many observers think it will now overturn Grutter v. Bollinger and end them altogether. Such a ruling would be a painful and paradoxical twist for civil rights advocates. In a classic turn of Orwellian irony, the plaintiffs challenging affirmative action now call themselves Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA). And as the foundation of their argument, these plaintiffs invoke Brown v. Board of Education (Brown I)—the landmark ruling where the Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in public schools. According to SFFA, laws which mandated the total exclusion of Black children from public schools are constitutionally and morally equivalent to policies that increase racial diversity at universities and have only minimal burden on any racial group. The plaintiffs argue simply that “[b]ecause Brown [I] is right, Grutter is wrong.”

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SMU Law Review Forum



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