In November 2014, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. (SFFA) filed a federal lawsuit against the University of North Carolina System, the UNC System Board of Governors, and UNC-Chapel Hill challenging the constitutionality of our admissions process and seeking to end the University’s consideration of race in admissions.
Contrary to SFFA’s allegation that “race is a dominant factor” in Carolina’s admissions decisions “to the detriment of white and Asian American applicants,” our evidence in this case shows the admissions office uses race in a limited, permissible fashion.
The lawsuit challenges longstanding U.S. Supreme Court legal precedent that permits colleges and universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill, to provide crucial educational benefits to all students by considering race as one factor among many when assessing students for admission to create a diverse community of learners.
SFFA, a private group based in Arlington, Va., was founded by Edward Blum, a Houston businessman.
Blum helped spearhead Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which also challenged another university’s ability to enroll a talented and diverse student body. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected similar claims against UT-Austin in 2016. That was the fourth time in 40 years that the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the educational benefits of a diverse student body constitute a compelling interest that can justify the narrowly tailored consideration of race in college admissions. SFFA filed a new federal lawsuit against UT-Austin in 2020. A federal court judge dismissed that lawsuit in July 2021.
SFFA also filed a federal lawsuit against Harvard University that went to trial in fall 2018. After a bench trial, a federal court judge ruled in Harvard’s favor in October 2019. A federal appeals court upheld that decision in 2020. SFFA has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, and the Supreme Court has asked the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief in the case expressing the views of the United States.