By Gabriella Borter
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, a practice called affirmative action employed by a majority of selective schools.
Here is a look at some of the key players in the cases.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League school of global prestige located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is the oldest U.S. university. Harvard was sued in 2014 by anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions, which accused Harvard of unlawful discrimination against Asian American applicants in its admissions practices. Harvard has called the lawsuit politically motivated and has defended its admissions process, which takes race into consideration alongside dozens of other factors. The lawsuit accused Harvard of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination based on race, color or national origin under any program or activity receiving federal funding.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a prestigious public research university. It is the flagship school of the 16-campus UNC system and the oldest U.S. public university. Students for Fair Admissions sued UNC in 2014, alleging that the Chapel Hill campus unlawfully discriminated against white and Asian American applicants. The school denies the allegations and, like Harvard, has defended its admissions objective of enrolling a diverse student body. The lawsuit accused the university of violating the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment promise of equal protection under the law.
STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS
Students for Fair Admissions is a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 by conservative activist Edward Blum, who has waged a legal war against affirmative action policies. The group takes on the cases of college applicants who contend they were wrongfully rejected by a college or university on the basis of race.
The founder of Students for Fair Admissions, Blum has said he is on a mission to erase racial preferences intended to boost diversity in American life. He began his campaign to legally challenge race-conscious admissions in 2008, when he took on the case of Abigail Fisher, a white student who felt she had been discriminated against in her rejection by the University of Texas. The Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas admissions policy in that case, but the court’s makeup has since changed, moving it ideologically to the right.
LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW
The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonprofit organization founded in 1963 with the mission of fighting for equity for U.S. racial minorities. The group has represented students, prospective students and alumni at Harvard and UNC for nearly a decade as they defend the school admissions policies.
(Compiled by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Will Dunham, Donna Bryson, William Maclean)
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