Los Angeles Times

Jackson allowed to weigh racial admissions case

Supreme Court takes a step to let the new justice hear a case on affirmativ­e action.


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday took a step that will allow new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the court, to take part in a case that could lead to the end of the use of race in college admissions.

Jackson, who joined the court June 30 after the retirement of Justice Stephen G. Breyer, had pledged during her confirmati­on hearing to sit out the case involving Harvard’s admissions policy because she was a member of the school’s board.

The Harvard dispute had been joined to a similar lawsuit involving the University of North Carolina. The court split the case in two, allowing Jackson to hear arguments and vote in the North Carolina case. She will not participat­e in the Harvard case. Harvard is a private institutio­n, while North Carolina is a public university.

Jackson’s participat­ion in the North Carolina case seems unlikely to make a difference in the outcome on a court with a 6-3 conservati­ve majority that is skeptical of the role of race in education, voting and other areas.

Arguments over one of the new term’s most highly anticipate­d issues probably will take place in November or December, but no date has been announced.

Jackson was a member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers from 2016 until the spring. It is made up of alumni and is one of Harvard’s two governing bodies. She is a graduate both of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Three other justices also got their law degrees from Harvard: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Elena Kagan and Neil M. Gorsuch. Roberts also was a Harvard undergradu­ate and Kagan was the law school dean for a time.

But none of the other justices has any current or recent role with the university.

Federal law requires all judges to recuse from cases in which their “impartiali­ty might reasonably be questioned,” including close ties to a party, a financial interest in the outcome or participat­ion at an earlier stage of the case.

The court has taken similar steps before. In 2020, Justice Sonia Sotomayor discovered a conflict in a dispute from two states over presidenti­al electors. The court abandoned plans to hear them together and eventually issued its major decision in the case in which all the justices participat­ed.

 ?? Associated Press ?? Andrew Harnik
THE COURT split a case into two because of Justice Jackson’s conf lict.
Associated Press Andrew Harnik THE COURT split a case into two because of Justice Jackson’s conf lict.

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