Supreme Court Ruling Overview

In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to significantly limit the use of race in admissions. The consideration of race as a status or category is no longer permitted. The decision greatly impacts how all colleges and universities use race in their admissions practices. Learn more about the implications of the ruling by reading the Preliminary Guidance Regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC.

The Majority’s Opinion

The Court asserted three bases for its determination that the Harvard and UNC admission policies violated federal nondiscrimination law. The Court ruled that:

  1. Neither institution established a legally sustainable compelling interest
  2. The institutions’ consideration of racial status has impermissible negative effects and stereotypes
  3. Neither institution established a sufficient end to the consideration of racial status

Permissible Practices

The Court noted two areas that colleges and universities do not need to change:

  1. Authority to establish mission
  2. The ability to consider an applicant’s qualities associated with experience, including race

Issues Not Addressed by the Court

In its opinion, the Court did not address the following:

  • Scholarships and financial aid
  • Recruitment and outreach
  • Pipeline and pathway programs
  • Data collection
  • Race-neutral strategies
  • Employment of faculty and staff

5 Actions for Institutions and Systems to Take

  1. Remain focused and clear on advancing diversity and equity goals.
  2. Assure that barriers to achieving diversity and equity goals have been eliminated.
  3. Reexamine or reimagine enrollment policies and advance all viable, authentic “race-neutral” policies and practices to achieve appropriate institutional goals.
  4. Examine financial aid and scholarship policies and practices with care, given the complexities in design and execution of such programs.
  5. Examine and promote a broader strategy to advance equity and diversity goals across a range of institutional responsibilities.