Supreme Court Rules Against Race-Conscious Admissions in Harvard and UNC

In the landmark decision of Students For Fair Admissions, Inc., the Supreme Court has ruled against the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC). Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the 6-3 majority, declared that these programs were unconstitutional due to their negative use of race and involvement of racial stereotyping. Here, our Anaheim employment lawyers provides a legal analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision, highlighting its impact on both public and private institutions and discussing its potential implications in the employment arena.

The Application of the Ruling to UNC and Harvard:

The Supreme Court’s ruling applies to both UNC, a public institution, and Harvard, a private institution. UNC was subject to the ruling due to its status as a state-owned entity, as public institutions are bound by constitutional restrictions. In the case of Harvard, the Court determined that despite being a private institution, it accepted federal funding and agreed to be treated similarly to a state actor in matters related to admissions. This decision sets a precedent that private institutions receiving federal funding can be subject to constitutional scrutiny, including in matters involving affirmative action.

Implications for the Employment Arena:

While the Supreme Court’s ruling directly addresses race-conscious admissions programs in higher education, its implications can extend to the employment arena. The Court’s reasoning and analysis may influence the legal landscape concerning affirmative action and diversity initiatives in employment practices.

Employers who have implemented race-conscious policies, such as affirmative action plans, may need to reassess their practices in light of this ruling. After this ruling, employee’s who have not been hired or promoted based on an employer’s affirmative action plan, may need to consult an attorney to see if they have legal recourse against the employer.  Napolitano says if the entity doing the discrimination are the state itself or are owned by the state or, in all areas where the entity doing the discrimination is in the shoes of the state because they have accepted federal and/or state funds/money, and in doing so have agreed to abide by federal Civil Rights laws.

The Supreme Court’s emphasis on the narrow tailoring of policies and the avoidance of racial stereotyping sends a clear message that any consideration of race must meet the “strict scrutiny test”, which means it must be narrowly tailored, serving a compelling interest, and avoiding discriminatory practices.  Legal pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano stated this having a diverse group of people is a legitimate goal, and that a legitimate goal could be furthered by the use of affirmative action, but that it would have to meet the strict scrutiny legal test.  In this case, says Napolitano, it would be hard for Harvard to meet the strict scrutiny test, as they would have to prove they couldn’t buy more land, or build more classrooms, build more dorms, or hire more teachers, so that they could accommodate more students.  Napolitano went on to say, from his youtube channel, Judge Napolitano, Judging Freedom, that “From and after today, In order to comply with strict scrutiny, the state or private entity that is in the state’s shoes, must show that its need to discriminate on the basis of race is a compelling need, one that it must absolutely exercise in order to maintain its educational mission, that is a very, very high bar…” They would have to legally show a compelling state interest served by the least restrictive alternative.

Moreover, the ruling underscores the significance of equal protection under the law in employment matters. Employers should review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with constitutional principles and anti-discrimination laws. While the decision does not eliminate the possibility of considering race in employment decisions, it emphasizes the need for employers to demonstrate a compelling interest and show that their practices are necessary and narrowly tailored to achieve diversity goals.

As with higher education institutions, private employers that receive federal funding or contracts may be subject to the same level of scrutiny as state actors. This ruling serves as a reminder that federal funds and contracts can come with obligations and potential constitutional implications.


The Supreme Court’s ruling against the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and UNC carries implications beyond the realm of higher education. The decision underscores the need for public and private institutions, including employers, to carefully assess their practices and policies concerning race-conscious initiatives. The ruling’s application to Harvard, as a private institution accepting federal funding, expands the scope of constitutional scrutiny in matters related to affirmative action.

As an employee, if you believe that your employer is engaging in race-conscious hiring practices, especially if you work for a state entity or a private institution that has received government funding, this recent ruling may have significant implications for your rights. You may have a potential claim against your employer. At Nassiri Law, we specialize in representing employees in matters related to employment law, including discrimination and affirmative action. Our experienced attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of this ruling and can provide the guidance and advocacy you need.

If you have concerns about how this decision may impact your employment situation or if you believe your rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to reach out to Nassiri Law. We are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. You can contact us at 949-375-4734 or visit our website to learn more about our services and schedule a confidential consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

Remember, your rights as an employee matter, and we are here to help you navigate the legal landscape and seek the justice you deserve.

The Supreme Court’s decision highlights the ongoing importance of promoting diversity and equal opportunity while adhering to constitutional boundaries. It serves as a call for employers to embrace race-neutral alternatives and ensure that any consideration of race is narrowly tailored, serves a compelling interest, and avoids discriminatory practices. By doing so, employers can create inclusive and diverse workplaces while upholding the principles of equal protection under the law.




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