Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson was featured on an episode of the Legal Talk Today podcast discussing the ongoing legal battle between Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) and Harvard University over race conscious admissions practices.

Following the November 2020 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upholding Harvard’s use of race in its admission program, SFFA has filed a petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case in the hopes of overturning the Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which held that colleges and universities may consider race if they have a compelling interest and do so in a narrow, limited manner.

Audrey explained that decision, saying that colleges are “allowed to take race into account if done in a way that is narrowly tailored. So a college has to show that it has a compelling interest in using race and that it is using race in a very narrow way. So colleges are not allowed to use quotas, they are not allowed to use race in a mechanical way … But schools are allowed to take account of race a holistic way when looking at candidates.”

Beyond the Harvard case, SFFA is in litigation with the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas at Austin over affirmative action. Whether the Supreme Court grants or denies the petition to hear the Harvard case, which Audrey expects to be announced by the end of June, these additional matters give SFFA other opportunities to seek the reversal of Grutter by the Supreme Court. The North Carolina case may reveal the next developments in the ongoing legal fight over race conscious admissions policies, as the bench trial has concluded and we are just awaiting the judge’s decision.

“What SFFA is asking the Court to do is to overrule Grutter. They are saying that colleges and universities do not have a compelling interest in considering race to get the benefits of a diverse student body. They want the Grutter case to be overruled. That’s really been SFFA’s goal all along in suing Harvard and suing the University of Texas which they’ve done before and which they’re doing again now,” said Audrey of SFFA’s position.

The full episode, “Suing Harvard! (For Racial Discrimination in Admissions),” was released by the Legal Talk Today Podcast on March 10 and is available below or wherever you get your podcast content.