The Supreme Court is set to consider next week whether to hear a challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions program. If the justices take the case — a reasonably safe bet — affirmative action in higher education, which has survived several close calls at the court, will again be in peril.
Its main vulnerability will be the contested and largely untested proposition that diversity enhances education, and that students of different backgrounds benefit from learning from one another.
The university’s main argument, Justice Alito wrote, “is that merely invoking ‘the educational benefits of diversity’ is sufficient and that it need not identify any metric that would allow a court to determine whether its plan is needed to serve, or is actually serving, those interests.”
A new study set out to devise such a metric.
“We found a real, quantifiable measure within the context of higher academia,” said Jonathan S. Masur, a law professor at the University of Chicago and one of the study’s authors. “That’s pretty hard to do.”
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