The Roberts Court holds a well-earned reputation for overturning Supreme Court precedent regardless of the long-standing nature of the case. The Roberts Court knows how to overrule precedent. In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard (SFFA), the Court’s majority opinion never intimates that it overrules Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court’s leading opinion permitting race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Instead, the Roberts Court applied Grutter as authoritative to hold certain affirmative action programs entailing racial preferences violative of the Constitution. These programs did not provide an end point, nor did they require assessment, review, periodic expiration, or revision for greater institutional efficacy, including possible race-neutral alternatives. The programs also failed to break down stereotypes through the introduction of a critical mass to empower diverse voices. The programs thereby resembled prohibited quotas or racial balancing. As such, the programs at issue violated Grutter, which still governs race-based affirmative action in college admissions. More importantly, the Roberts court paved the way for more expansive diversity-based admissions programs by permitting institutions to value individual racial experiences, which authentically further an institution’s mission and interests. After SFFA, the use of race as a factor could well face time limits. Contrastingly, individualized racial experiences may benefit college applicants at institutions that embrace diversity in an authentic way without facing any time limitation. Further, institutions with distinct missions may value diversity in a race-conscious way but without any racial preference. In sum, the Roberts Court guides the use of race in college admissions toward a race-neutral, diversity-based paradigm such that institutions may still unlock the empirically proven benefits of cultural diversity with only de minimus interference from the courts. This approach rests upon a powerful policy basis that leads to superior innovation, macroeconomic outcomes, social cohesion and, therefore, superior national security for the United States. This approach thus could support a powerful interest convergence.

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