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Lesson Plan

Can Race Be a Factor in College Admissions? SCOTUS Reconsiders Affirmative Action.

About this Video
This 12-minute video delves into how the Supreme Court has upheld the consideration of race in college admissions. Two cases before the Court in 2022 bring renewed challenges to affirmative action programs. In one, Harvard is accused of discriminating against Asian Americans; in the other, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accused of giving unfair preference to Black, Native American and Hispanic students, putting white and Asian applicants at a disadvantage. The universities have defended their admissions practices, citing past Supreme Court rulings that support the use of race as a factor.

Students will:

  • Examine contemporary and historical Supreme Court cases dealing with affirmative action.
  • Analyze and classify arguments in support of and opposition to affirmative action programs.
  • Identify the purpose and effectiveness of amicus curiae briefs.
  • Analyze a Supreme Court opinion to determine the main idea and supporting details.
  • Civics & Government
  • Civics and Government
  • U.S. History
  • Supreme Court
  • Race in U.S. History
  • The Modern Era (1980-Present)
For Teachers
Essential Questions
  • How has the Supreme Court viewed affirmative action policies in higher education?
  • What are the central arguments in support of and opposition to affirmative action policies?
  • What are amicus curiae briefs, and why are they important to the process of deciding cases?
Additional Resources
Transcript for "Can Race Be a Factor in College Admissions? SCOTUS Reconsiders Affirmative Action." Retro Report
Article: How to Read a Legal Opinion The Green Bag: An Entertaining Journal of Law
Case Excerpt: Grutter v. Bollinger Retro Report
Why and When to File an Amicus Brief Smith, Gambrell & Russell
Excerpt of the ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) The Supreme Court

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.

Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources.

Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.

Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.

Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.

Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.

Analyze the impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and interna-tional agreements on the maintenance of national and international order.

Explain how the U.S. Constitution establishes a system of government that has powers, responsibilities, and limits that have changed over time and that are still contested.

Evaluate citizens’ and institutions’ effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.

Evaluate social and political systems in different contexts, times, and places, that promote civic virtues and enact democratic principles.

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