National Institute on Aging

Federal Judge Upholds Race-Sensitive Admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Judge Loretta C. Biggs of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled on October 18 that the race-sensitive admissions policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill meets constitutional guidelines and adheres to Supreme Court precedent.

In 2014, the group Students for Fair Admissions filed the lawsuit. It alleged that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill unfairly uses race to give significant preference to underrepresented minority applicants to the detriment of White and Asian-American applicants while ignoring race-neutral alternatives for achieving a diverse student body.

The judge wrote that “the University’s admissions program engages in a highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant’s file, giving serious consideration to all of the ways an applicant may contribute to a diverse educational environment. Further, the University’s use of race in the admissions process is narrowly tailored in that the University considers race flexibly as a plus factor as one among many factors in its individualized consideration of each and every applicant.”

An appeal is expected. Proponents of race-sensitive admissions fear that if a new case reaches the Supreme Court, the conservative majority will reverse earlier decisions allowing affirmative actions programs.

Judge Biggs was appointed to the district court by President Obama. She is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta and the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.


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