Affirmative action faces an overdue Supreme Court reckoning

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear two cases that challenge the affirmative action policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. In these consolidated cases, a group representing students and parents is asking the Supreme Court to find that race-based affirmative action programs violate Constitutional and statutory prohibitions on race-based discrimination. While the broad outlines of the programs at issue should be familiar to anyone who has ever sought a highly competitive job or spot in a selective school, some of the facts of these cases defy belief. For example, the evidence at trial against Harvard showed that the school knowingly discriminated against Asian applicants by continually giving those students poor marks on the “personal rating” portion of the evaluation, describing them as industrious and intelligent but unexceptional and indistinguishable .