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The Supreme Court will hear challenges to affirmative action policies at Harvard and UNC

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear challenges to affirmative action in college admissions, "a move that could eliminate campus practices that have widely benefited Black and Hispanic students," CNN reports.

The high court will consider a pair of cases — one against Harvard and another against the University of North Carolina — brought before it by conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which argues both schools' admissions processes discriminate against Asian American applicants, Axios writes.  

Though the court has reconsidered and upheld affirmative action before, "two liberal justices who were key to those decisions are gone," notes NBC News. Conservative replacements Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are believed less likely to support the policy.

SFFA is asking the court to overrule its 2003 decision that upheld University of Michigan's use of race as a "plus factor" in admissions, arguing it "endorsed racial objectives that are amorphous and unmeasurable."

"If a university wants to admit students with certain experiences (say, overcoming discrimination), then it can evaluate whether individual applicants have that experience," SFFA wrote in their brief. "It cannot simply use race as a proxy for certain experiences or views."

Previously, lower courts had ruled in favor of the universities, notes Axios.

Arguments in the cases will likely be heard in the session beginning next October, with a decision expected by June 2023, per CNN. If the court does overrule the 2003 precedent, adds NBC News, "affirmative action programs would be in serious jeopardy nationwide."