Are Asian American college applicants at a disadvantage? Supreme Court debate stirs fear of bias
AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Supreme Court is grappling with a new question: Should Asian Americans be denied admissions to the nation’s top colleges and universities?
The court’s ruling in a case that could change the country’s demographics could have a deep impact on who can attend top schools, where they may be accepted and whether they’ll be accepted at all.
In 2003, the justices heard a pair of cases that took on the issue of affirmative action, the practice of using legal means, such as college test scores, to determine who can attend the nation’s educational institutions. These cases were one in which the court ruled against affirmative action in education, the other in which the justices ruled that a school that used affirmative action in admissions was subject to strict review.
The affirmative action case, South v. Kentucky, will come back to the Supreme Court in the fall, and the justices will decide whether their ruling in that case was correct, said Thomas Staudenmayer, dean of Washington & Lee Law School and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
The cases in 2003 were different, however, in that the justices decided that there should be no consideration of race or ethnicity in university admissions. That was a decision that is likely to come back to the Supreme Court.
“The South case is more complex,” said Jonathan Schmitz, director of the Washington & Lee Transnational Institute and an associate professor at Washington & Lee University School of Law. The two cases had very different outcomes, he said.
“There was a lot of angst around this issue” and discussion on the part of scholars around how the Supreme Court should handle it, Schmitz said.
Asian Americans are among the fastest growing minority groups at both the high school and college levels, according to an August report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission. African Americans are the largest sub-group with an increase of more than 9 percent while non-Hispanic white enrollment increased by 12 percent over the same period.
Asian Americans are the nation’s most populous Asian sub-group, representing about 14 percent of the Asian Americans as of 2012,