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February 22, 2022 BLACK HISTORY MONTH

The Supreme Court and the Future of Affirmative Action

Affirmative action has historically been used to ensure equal employment on the basis of race and sex, recognizing that marginalized groups face unique challenges limiting equal opportunity. This webinar will delve into how affirmative action has traditionally been used to provide greater educational opportunities to marginalized groups and significantly increase educational diversity, recognizing that traditional admission indicators such as test scores or grade point averages may further exclude minorities and not recognize their distinct strengths and talents. Despite rulings in Supreme Court cases like Fisher v. University of Texas in 2016, which determined that the use of race as an admission consideration did not violate the Equal Protection Clause, affirmative action in education has been continually challenged with claims that race should not be a deciding factor for admissions at all. Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld narrowly tailored affirmative action programs in public universities over the last four decades. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on whether race-conscious admissions programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard–the first case to be taken by the Court involving a private university–are lawful, our panel examines the roots and impact of affirmative action. In addition, panelists examine the potential implications of overturning the Fisher decision and limiting diversity in university education.


  • Yahonnes Cleary, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
  • Michael Lawson, President & CEO, Los Angeles Urban League
  • Drucilla Stender Ramey, Dean Emerita, Golden Gate University School of Law; Former Executive Director, Bar Association of San Francisco and National Association of Women Judges; Special Counsel, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice
  • John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC


  • Paul M. Smith, Senior Vice President, Campaign Legal Center; Professor from Practice, Georgetown University Law Center; Council Member, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Chair, Amicus Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Co-Sponsors: ABA Center for Public Interest LawABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the ProfessionABA Standing Committee on Public Education

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