Asian-American advocates are optimistic the Supreme Court will rule against universities that use race-based admissions and end the practice once and for all.
The Supreme Court on Monday heard two cases that challenge the use of affirmative action at universities. The plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions, claims Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are illegally using race as a standard by limiting the admission of qualified Asian Americans, an argument several justices appeared to accept during the public hearing.
Mike Zhao, the president of the Asian American Coalition for Education, said Asian Americans have been discriminated against for decades through race-based admissions. The court, he said, is overdue to make the right decision.
“We are confident that a majority of justices will uphold the U.S. Constitution and end the divisive and failing policy of using race in college admissions,” Zhao told Fox News Digital. “Because of such horrendous discrimination, many Asian-American applicants have to hide their racial identity to get admitted by America’s selective colleges. Unfortunately, in 21st century America, our children are still being treated as second-class citizens.”
The Supreme Court on June 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The plaintiff argues that Harvard uses a subjective personality standard illegally as a preference for certain races and that the school gives lower overall personality scores to Asian Americans and White people.
During the argument, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito questioned the Harvard defense team’s use of terms such as “diversity” and “underrepresented minority,” which they said are not clearly defined. Chief Justice John Roberts, who aims to be the independent vote on the bench, criticized a Harvard lawyer who compared race considerations in admissions to “being an oboe player in a year in which the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra needs an oboe player.”
Roberts seemed to reject that comparison by saying the issue before the court is not discrimination based on skill sets but discrimination based on race.
“We did not fight a Civil War about oboe players,” Roberts said. “We did fight a Civil War to eliminate racial discrimination, and that’s why it’s a matter of considerable concern.”
Vijay Jojo Chokal Ingam, an Asian-American advocate against race-based admissions, said Roberts’s assertion is an encouraging sign that race preferences at universities will soon come to an end.
“Chief Justice Roberts cut through all the distractions and exposed Harvard for their racism and hypocrisy,” Chokal Ingam, who claimed he identified as Black to get into an elite medical school, told Fox News Digital. “But it will take more than just a Supreme Court decision to end affirmative action in America. The next battle will be enforcement.”
Members of the Supreme Court (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson defended the four-decade precedent of affirmative action at universities by noting that factors other than test scores are considered in college applications, and they warned that an overturn of race considerations could hurt education levels for minorities.
This view is shared by some Asian-American advocates. Thu Nguyen, the executive director of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, said his group wants to protect affirmative action at universities because it boosts diversity and creates a positive environment for students.
“Affirmative action is not just about checking off a box,” Nguyen told Fox News Digital. “It empowers students to authentically share their lived experiences in personal statements and showcase the unique strengths they bring to the table. This kind of diversity creates rich learning environments, and we must preserve the opportunities for such.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is seen before the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022. (Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images)
Polling data on the topic show support for ending race-based admissions policies. A Pew Research poll found 74 percent of respondents in opposition to race and ethnicity considerations in applications.
Wai Wah Chin, the founding president of Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York, said this data makes it clear the American people are ready for the end of affirmative action at universities.
“They are against racial discrimination,” Chin told Fox News Digital. “But pernicious division and discrimination by race have been ongoing for a long time in admissions, so there is wrongful resistance to a change back to privileging individual merit. Those who see everything through the lens of color, want a superficial skin color result, or benefit from that, should join us in opposing discriminating by race.”
California voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative in 2020 that would have re-established race considerations in college admissions. Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that states without race preferences at universities continue to have diverse campuses. Ying Ma, who worked against this initiative as part of the “No on Prop 16” campaign in California in 2020, said the vote appears to be a sign of what is to come at the Supreme Court.
“While these victories reflect the voters’ will to stand for equal rights time and time again at the ballot box, proponents of racial discrimination have resisted at every turn,” Ma told Fox News Digital. “They now fear that the high court’s decision to strike down racial preferences would take effect across the country not just in select states.”
Patrick Hauf is a politics writer for Fox News Digital.