Audrey Anderson Examines Potential Challenges to Use of Affirmative Action in College Admission Policies

December 6, 2021
Nashville Business Journal

For the Nashville Business Journal’s “Focus on Education” section published December 3, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson authored an article outlining the legal cases and potential Supreme Court consideration of race conscious admission policies.

“The U.S. Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning 40-plus years of precedent on an important civil rights issue that would have far-reaching consequences for young people: affirmative action in college admissions,” Audrey said.

Currently, colleges can use affirmative action to seek the benefits of a racially diverse student body, such as learning to navigate a racially diverse world, improving class discussions by offering diverse viewpoints and serving communities by making opportunities available to people from all racial groups. If the court finds affirmative action unconstitutional, colleges that currently consider race as one factor in a holistic determination of which students to admit would no longer be able to do so.

While these schools will attempt to achieve their goal by considering other factors, such as socioeconomic status, evidence from states that have adopted laws prohibiting public colleges from considering race suggests that racial diversity generally decreases when colleges no longer consider race in admissions. “Thus, removing the ability of colleges to consider race as one factor in a holistic admissions process harms not only the students who are no longer admitted under a ‘color blind’ admissions process, it also hurts students who are admitted to those colleges who are now less likely to obtain the educational benefits of a racially diverse student body,” Audrey said.

While the Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in yet, it is currently considering a case challenging Harvard’s admissions program brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), and it may make a decision whether to hear the case in 2022. SFFA also has appeals cases in other courts against UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a new case against Yale.

The full article “Supreme Court May Decide Future of Affirmative Action,” was published by the Nashville Business Journal on December 3 and is available online.