Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes discrimination against people based on race, gender, and so forth illegal, affirmative action in college admissions has long been operating in a gray area.
In the recent case regarding the legality of race-based considerations in college admissions, the US Department of Justice accused Yale of unlawful discrimination with its admission practices. What does this mean for Yale and college students in general?
Affirmative action at work
Affirmative action It is the practice of looking at factors such as race and gender to ensure that women and ethnic minorities – who have historically had fewer chances of acceptance – are given special consideration. This allows for more diversity in student bodies.
Over the years, Supreme Court interpretations of affirmative action law She has disagreed and often opposed the opinions of the previous court. Depending on the judges sitting in court, and the specifics of a case, affirmative action policies are usually either permissible or unconstitutionally prioritizing one group of people over another.
In 2003, the Supreme Court decided on Graz vs Bollinger This race can be a permissible consideration in the university admission process, as long as it serves a direct purpose for accepting more underrepresented minorities and does not take the form of a quota system.
The court based this precedent in 2013 in its opinion Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin. In this case, the white student who filed a lawsuit against the university won her case, and the court ruled that the system that granted minorities 20 “points” for admission was unconstitutional.
In general, the court took a more permissive stance towards affirmative action regimes when factors based on race or gender were merely a consideration in the admission process, rather than a number-based diversity quota system. In general, the court permitted the “limited” use of considerations based on race, although it believed affirmative action should be subject to strict judicial scrutiny.
Yale Bulldog in the dog house
While details of the allegations against Yale have not been disclosed, the university says its affirmative action policies are in line with previous Supreme Court precedent. The Ministry of Justice argues That Yale University’s use of race is “only limited” and illegally harms white and Asian American students with admission.
The Justice Department says it plans to file a lawsuit if Yale does not reform its practices – but who will the court rule in its favor if that happens? It’s hard to say for sure without knowing exactly what the affirmative action process looks like at Yale.
One of Yale’s good signs is that Harvard University recently won a similar lawsuit With the support of the Ministry of Justice. Harvard has been accused of discriminating against Asian American students through its use of affirmative action, and although its practice of “limited” acceptance on the basis of race was designed as imperfect, it has not been judged illegal or unconstitutional.
The use of terms such as “limited” opens the way for debate and disagreement in the judicial review process. Yale says his practice of using race in admission is consistent with Supreme Court precedent and rulings, but the Department of Justice disagrees. It is now up to the courts to determine which correct interpretation of the word “limited”.