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Carolina Convincingly Wins Trial Court Decision

SFFA’s original lawsuit alleged UNC-Chapel Hill intentionally discriminated based on race in violation of the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But after an eight-day trial, a federal district court ruled in the University’s favor in October 2021.

The trial court issued a 155-page opinion to support its overwhelming conclusion that after applying the law to the facts and evidence, our holistic, need-blind admissions process complies with long-standing precedent the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed in 2016 (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin).

The decision concluded the admissions office uses race in a limited, permissible fashion and that race is not the dominant factor in decisions about academically qualified applicants.

The trial court’s decision also said Carolina demonstrated “with clarity” that it:

  • has a compelling interest in pursuing the educational benefits of diversity endorsed by the Supreme Court;
  • considers race flexibly only as one factor among many for each and every applicant in a lawful admissions approach; and
  • engages in serious, good-faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives and has shown that it has not yet found any that would promote its compelling interest about as well as its current admissions approach.

“While no student can or should be admitted to this University, or any other, based solely on race, because race is so interwoven in every aspect of the lived experience of minority students, to ignore it, reduce its importance and measure it only by statistical models as SFFA has done, misses important context to include obscuring racial barriers and obstacles that have been faced, overcome and are yet to be overcome,” the court concluded.

UNC-Chapel Hill follows Supreme Court precedent to create a community where students from all backgrounds across North Carolina and beyond can excel and thrive.