The court ruled more than four decades ago in its Bakke decision that race can be considered as one factor among many in creating a diverse class — which it has deemed an educational benefit for the whole student body — and has reaffirmed that stance over the years. Now, with Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, alongside their conservative brethren, some see a chance to take down what they argue is bias masquerading as equity.
“Sandra Day O’Connor basically opined that we could have another 20 years or 25 years of affirmative action programs, but that they would not go on forever,” said Linda Chavez, chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative group that focuses on race and ethnicity. O’Connor speculated on such a time frame in 2003 when she wrote the high court’s majority opinion upholding the use of race in admissions at the University of Michigan.
“And yet we do see them going on forever,” Chavez said. “We’re now talking about kids who are getting into college on the basis of some racial or ethnic preference who are the grandchildren of people who first got those preferences.”