The Students for Fair Admissions Cases at The Supreme Court: Commentary by Paul Gowder

On 29 June 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, declaring race-based college affirmative action programs unconstitutional. In a 6-3 vote, the justices held that the admissions programs at these universities violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Paul Gowder of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law criticizes the decision, but also the use of diversity as a justification for affirmative action. Gowder argues that there are ethically better justifications for affirmative action and explains where he sees hope for advancing equality in U.S. higher education.

0:18 – Analysis of the decision

2:36 – The core notion of the Court’s holding

5:55 – Diversity and strict scrutiny

10:38 – An important subtlety of the case

12:18 – Critique of the decision

13:50 – Better rationals of affirmative actions in higher education

18:15 – The diversity rationale might have a corrupting influence

22:03 – Moving forward