Republican Senator, Representative Introduce Bill to Enforce Ban on Affirmative Action

The College Admissions Accountability Act seeks to ensure universities exclude race as a factor in their admissions processes.
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Published on December 8, 2023
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  • A U.S. senator and U.S. representative, both Republicans, introduced the College Admissions Accountability Act to help enforce the Supreme Court's decision to end affirmative action in college admissions.
  • The act would install a special inspector general and implement reporting and oversight procedures to ensure race is no longer used as a determining factor in college admissions.
  • The Supreme Court was divided on political party lines over ending affirmative action in college admissions despite polling showing around 50% of Americans opposed the practice.
  • The new bill also seeks to shape financial aid and on-campus research programs to adhere to the Supreme Court ruling.

Republicans U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, introduced a bill Tuesday intended to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court's ban on affirmative action in college admissions.

The bill, known as the College Admissions Accountability Act, follows the Supreme Court's June decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard (SFFA v. Harvard), which determined that colleges can no longer consider race in their admissions processes.

Every student in America is entitled to equal protection under the law, regardless of their background, Vance said in a press release on the bill. Yet for decades, America's higher education cartel has discriminated against applicants and students by adhering to racial preferences under the banner of ‘equity.’

The Supreme Court's landmark decision in SFFA v. Harvard rightly called for an end to these unjust practices. This bill creates the means necessary to enforce the court's decision and hold colleges and universities accountable for illegal discrimination on the basis of race.

Affirmative action policies have been in place in the United States since the '60s and have provided opportunities to women and minority groups in all aspects of life, including employment, housing, and education. Despite this, surveys have shown 50% of Americans opposed using race as a factor in college admissions.

Vance's press release stated that the new bill would ensure public accountability to the decision in SFFA v. Harvard by:

  • Establishing an office within the U.S. Department of Education to investigate allegations that admissions practices, policies, financial aid guidelines, or academic programs violate equal protection laws
  • Developing a complaint process for applicants and employees to file allegations against college admissions departments
  • Recommending disciplinary action for institutions found to have considered race in admissions, including withholding federal financial aid
  • Requiring quarterly reports on allegations, recommendations, corrective actions, and institutions' cooperation with the office
  • Withholding student assistance and institutional aid if the office finds a college discriminated against an applicant based on race

The bill will also make it harder for universities to find loopholes to evade enforcing the Supreme Court’s decision, according to an article by The Washington Free Beacon.

Ending Discrimination in Admissions — or Enabling it?

In the Supreme Court case, Students for Fair Admissions accused Harvard University of using its admissions process to justify admitting white applicants over Asian Americans. The Supreme Court, in its June 30 decision, cited the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as grounds for ending affirmative action in collegiate admissions.

Also known as the “Equal Protection Clause” of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment states that all citizens should be afforded the same considerations and treatment under the law. In this instance, it calls for universities to give preference to applicants not based on race but on merit based attributes like grades, the Supreme Court's decision determined. All six of the court's conservative justices concurred.

Students for Fair Admission founder Edward Blum told BBC that the decision represented, The beginning of the restoration of the colorblind legal covenant that binds together our multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation.

But opponents of the decision, like Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — called it truly a tragedy for us all.

With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat, Jackson wrote in her dissenting opinion.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote similarly that the decision cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society.

All three of the Supreme Court's liberal justices dissented from the opinion.

Closing Loopholes for Universities

In light of the Supreme Court's ruling, many universities have sought what Vance sees as loopholes for combating the ban on affirmative action, The Washington Free Beacon article stated.

Some institutions have overhauled their essay prompts to focus on race and identity — even though the Supreme Court said essays couldn't be used as a work-around — while others have advised faculty not to create a record of discriminatory intent and warned that socioeconomic preferences don’t do the trick demographically, the article stated.

Columbia Law School even announced that it would require short video statements from applicants to provide insight into their personal strengths.

It’s plans like these that the College Admissions Accountability Act aims to address, according to its proponents.

With its detailed plans for oversight, reporting, and accountability, the new bill puts universities on notice that, their unlawful actions will lead to clear consequences, the National Association of Scholars was quoted as saying in Vance's press release.

In addition to admissions, the new bill targets other university processes by empowering the special inspector general to go after scholarships, fellowships, and research programs that exclude non-minorities, the Free Beacon article stated.

The bill does not lay out a concrete timeline for creation or implementation of the measures it seeks to implement. However, it states that reporting shall be expected of the newly installed special inspector general no later than 60 days following their confirmation — and every three months thereafter.