US Supreme Court conservatives may have their chance to end affirmative action at universities
'Roe' on the line as Supreme Court takes up abortion rights case
The Supreme Court will hear a case from Mississippi that could transform abortion rights in America, overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing stringent new state laws. "This is the most important Supreme Court case on abortion since Roe in 1973, and I don't think it's particularly close," said Sherif Girgis, Notre Dame law professor and former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito.
Theled by Chief Justice John Roberts has long wanted to diminish racial remedies in American life and may now be headed toward a far-reaching decision on university .
The court is likely to decide in upcoming weeks whether to hear, which critics claim unlawfully consider students' race, benefitting Blacks and Hispanics, but disadvantaging Asian American applicants.
The Department of Justice late Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to reject the case against Harvard. The filing from the office of US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar emphasized that lower US courts had extensively reviewed Harvard's racial admissions practices and found them sufficiently limited to meet Supreme Court precedent as they furthered the school's interest in campus diversity.
Everyone Expects the Supreme Court to Uphold or Overturn Roe. But There’s Another Option.
The escape hatch from this abortion battle that terrifies conservatives.Each side of this showdown has generally framed Dobbs as a one-question test with a yes-or-no answer: Should the Supreme Court uphold or abolish the constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability? Each side agrees that the outcome lies in the hands of three justices who make up the center of this hard-right court: John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Legal advocates have aimed every argument at this powerful new troika.
Admissions practices that take account of students' race, first upheld in a 1978 Supreme Court decision and reaffirmed in 2003, have boosted the admission of Black and Latino students for decades. Proponents argue such diversity enhances campus life and the educational mission.
The policies have remained controversial over the years, however, and the high court has heard a series of lawsuits brought by opponents who. In past decades, racial affirmative action was narrowly upheld, in cases by one-vote margins.
But justices such as Sandra Day O'Connor and other centrist-conservatives have been succeeded by a new generation of more conservative Republican appointees. The writings of several justices in today's conservative majority suggest they would be ready to take up the racially charged dispute and possibly change the look of college enrollment across the country.
Abortion debate epicenter: Mississippi clinic stays open
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — As the U.S. Supreme Court hears a Mississippi case that could topple abortion rights nationwide, the state’s only abortion clinic is busier than ever: Volunteers continue to escort patients into the bright pink building while protesters outside beseech women not to end their pregnancies. In recent years, Jackson Women's Health Organization saw patients two or three days a week. It recently doubled its hours to treat women from Texas, where a law took effect in early September banning most abortions at about six weeks, and from Louisiana, where clinics are filling with Texas patients.
The court had postponed its consideration of the Harvard case while it waited for the views of the US Solicitor General's office. The nine justices are now likely to meet sometime in January on whether to accept the challenge, brought by the Students for Fair Admissions group.
The justices already have a calendar heavy on culture-war issues, including abortion rights, gun control and the separation of church and state. Based on arguments in these cases, Americans may be headed for a sea change in individual rights and civil liberties.
With such major cases on their agenda and only a few more weeks left for the scheduling of this spring's oral arguments, the justices, if they accept the case against Harvard, might hold off on oral arguments until October 2022, when the next court session begins.
Dramatic change in court's makeup
Students for Fair Admissions contends Harvard engages in "racial balancing" in its admissions practices. In the case dating to 2014, it argues the Ivy League campus holds Asian Americans to a higher standard and limits their numbers, in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids schools that receive federal funds from discriminating based on race.
Abortion: Challenge to Mississippi law could provide answer to Roe v. Wade's fate
At stake in the case is a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy as well as the Supreme Court's commitment to Roe v. Wade.In the most closely watched dispute the high court has tackled in years, the justices will consider not only whether to uphold the Mississippi law but whether to overturn its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to abortion.
Since the lawsuit began seven years ago, the composition of the Supreme Court has changed in a way to benefit opponents of affirmative action, with three new appointees of former President Donald Trump. The court, in a dispute over the University of Texas at Austin.
The Harvard lawsuit was engineered by a conservative activist, Edward Blum, who successfully brought the racial challenge that led to the 2013 landmark Shelby County v. Holder rolling back a major provision of the Voting Rights Act.
From the beginning, Blum and the conservative advocates who have joined him have aimed for high court reversal of Supreme Court rulings from 2003 (Grutter v. Bollinger) and 1978 (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke) permitting race to be one of many factors in selecting students for a place on campus.
When the Supreme Court in 2003 reaffirmed Bakke, now-retired Justice O'Connor emphasized a university's mission to train future leaders and wrote, "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one nation, indivisible, is to be realized."
Supreme Court prepares to hear biggest abortion fight in decades
Nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade, the future of abortion rights will face its most consequential test Wednesday.At the heart of the dispute before the high court, now with a 6-3 conservative majority, is a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. State officials have used the case, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, as a vehicle to ask the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion. Pro-abortion rights advocates warn a decision upholding the 2018 law would pave the way for states to ban the procedure entirely.
But the court has changed dramatically since then. Roberts has written, "It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race," and, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
Two of the justices in the majority that upheld racial admissions the last time such a case was heard, in 2016, were Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who have been succeeded by Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, respectively.
The court was down to seven justices for that 2016 Texas controversy. Justice Antonin Scalia had just died, and Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because of involvement in the dispute before becoming a justice.
Dissenting fromupholding the state university's racial criteria were Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Thomas, whose influence has grown in recent years with the new Trump appointees, wrote a separate dissenting statement underscoring his opposition to any state use of race in higher education admissions.
"The Constitution abhors classifications based on race because every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all," Thomas wrote. "That constitutional imperative does not change in the face of a 'faddish theory' that racial discrimination may produce 'educational benefits.' The Court was wrong to hold otherwise in Grutter v. Bollinger."
Democratic lawmakers renew calls to add seats to the Supreme Court after abortion debate
The growing push by some Democrats to reshape the Supreme Court reignited this week as the court heard oral arguments in the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban case that has the potential to limit abortion access across the U.S. The court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on Wednesday, and legal analysts have suggested the conservative majority will strike down decades of precedent following Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that limited government restrictions on abortion. If it does, it would open the door for state legislatures to pass laws banning abortions prior to fetal viability. IF ROE V.
Harvard's admissions rules
Harvard, which has urged the justices to reject the new appeal, counters that it sets no numbers for students tied to racial criteria and that all applicants are considered individually based on many characteristics.
A US district court judge ruled in 2019 against SFFA after a three-week trial a year earlier. The 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals last year affirmed the decision, finding that Harvard's practices were lawful under Supreme Court precedent and did not discriminate against Asian American students.
Students for Fair Admissions has also sued the University of North Carolina over its admissions practices. That case, which SFFA lost at trial, has not yet been heard by a US appeals court. But SFFA has urged the justices to hear the case, even without an appellate judgment, along with the Harvard controversy now pending. (The lawsuit against the state university raises a Title VI claim, as well as one under the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.)
In its filing on Wednesday, the Justice Department highlighted the decades-long reliance of public and private universities across the country on affirmative action, since the 1978 Bakke decision, and the disruption that would flow from reconsideration of precedent.
The Justice Department urged the court to spurn the challengers' request to reconsider the last major high-court endorsement of affirmative action, inknown as Grutter v. Bollinger.
Referring to the tradition of adhering to precedent, known as stare decisis, Prelogar wrote, "In the view of the United States, Grutter's interpretation of equal-protection principles is correct, and all traditional stare decisis factors -- including the substantial reliance interests of colleges and universities around the Nation -- strongly support adhering to Grutter."
DOJ urges Supreme Court to reject Harvard affirmative action challenge
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to reject a challenge to Harvard University's admissions practices, which the plaintiffs argued are discriminatory against Asian American applicants in an appeal filed earlier this year.In the petition, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that the rulings issued by previous courts on the case between the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) and Harvard had correctly recognized Supreme Court precedent. She also argued that Harvard had demonstrated that its admissions process is subject to "strict scrutiny" and that use of race is "narrowly tailored.
The Biden administration filing contrasts with the Trump administration position, which had backed the challengers to Harvard in an earlier stage of the long-running litigation.
Harvard's lawyers, in urging the justices to let its lower court victories stand, noted that no split in the larger legal issue exists among US appellate courts, which is usually what prompts the Supreme Court to hear and issue and clarify the law.
Harvard contends it considers race "only in a flexible and nonmechanical way" and that such consideration "benefits only highly qualified candidates."
SFFA's challenge was filed by the Consovoy McCarthy law firm, which is led by lawyers who were law clerks to Thomas and other conservative jurists and which represented Trump in some litigation during his tenure.
It argues that high court decisions allowing race to be a "plus" in screening have become "a minus for Asian Americans." The say Asian American applicants were penalized in a process that rated them as "book smart and one-dimensional." Lower court judges rejected the claim as they ruled that Harvard does not unlawfully discriminate.
Blum, a longtime opponent of racial policies, previously enlisted White students to challenge affirmative action policies, as he did in the University of Texas case. (White student Abigail Fisher lost that case.)
In the Harvard dispute, there are no individual Asian American plaintiffs named. Asian American advocates divided in their response to the lawsuit in the earlier phases of the litigation, some supporting, others opposing. The community is itself diverse, tracing its heritage to different countries and experiencing dissimilar social and economic prospects in the US.
The one good thing that could come from Gavin Newsom trolling the Supreme Court .
There are worse things than a hypocritical Court.Not long after the Court opened up this surprising door in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that he would see if the justices are really serious about creating a loophole that can be used to cancel constitutional rights.