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.
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. SFFA appealed that decision; a ruling is pending.