The US Supreme Court stated on Monday that it will reconsider race-based affirmative action in college admissions, a move that might result in the abolition of campus policies that have benefited Black and Hispanic students significantly.

The justices said that they will hear challenges to procedures at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that consider race as one of many factors in determining who gets a coveted spot in an entering class.

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The cases will be considered in the upcoming session, which starts in October, with a ruling expected in June 2023.

The Harvard and UNC lawsuits were first filed in 2014 with the goal of a Supreme Court showdown, where affirmative action has only been upheld on razor-thin one-vote margins. In the nearly eight years since then, the court has added more right-wing justices, including three nominations of former President Donald Trump.

For his part, Chief Justice John Roberts has long been a vocal opponent of racial policy, particularly in education.

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“It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race,” he wrote in a 2006 voting-rights dispute. The following year, when the majority invalidated two public school integration plans, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Candidates for Fair Admissions challengers contend that screening students based on race, even to achieve educational goals, is unlawful discrimination. They bolster their arguments with quotes from Roberts and other conservatives.

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However, the lower US courts that decided in favour of Harvard and the University of North Carolina in the dual-track instances acknowledged the programmes exploited race in a limited way to satisfy compelling diversity objectives. The university lawyers, as well as the Department of Justice, had argued that the appeals should be dismissed by the supreme court.