Affirmative Action Takes the Stand

The Supreme Court will hear Halloween arguments revisiting the fairness of affirmative action practices in university admissions that will have wide-reaching implications on who gets into college.

The case dates back to 2014, when Students for Fair Admissions filed two lawsuits seeking to eradicate over 40 years of established legal precedent allowing colleges to consider the race of highly qualified applicants in admissions. SFFA has failed so far to win their arguments in lower federal courts to strike down what they view as “race-conscious college admissions.”

Harvard College and the University of North Carolina will present their arguments on the same day in separate cases.

Many other universities and corporations —as well as military leaders—have filed briefs supporting the universities’ policies, arguing a diverse pipeline is critical to their success.  

Should the Supreme Court rule against the use of race-conscious admissions, universities across the country will need to grapple with how to continue promoting diversity without being able to legally consider this factor explicitly in the admissions process.   

Organizations impacted by the ruling should: 

  • Consider your audiences with a vested interest in the outcome and tailor your communications to each.
  • Before the ruling, emphasize your commitment to continuously fostering diversity no matter the Supreme Court’s decision. Avoid speculating on the decision.
  • After the ruling, work closely with your legal counsel and diversity offices to ensure they understand its impact and communicate accordingly. Underscore the importance of diversity and inclusion efforts and tout any still-legal programs that support them. 

Organizations not directly impacted by the ruling can still consider expressing the importance of diversity both before and after the ruling, tying it back to outcomes. For support on this issue, reach out to