The Supreme Court’s Upcoming Affirmative Action Decision: Potential Implications for Private-Sector Employers

22 May 2023
View Debevoise In Depth
Key takeaways:
  • The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to issue a widely anticipated decision this summer concerning the permissibility of race-conscious affirmative action in higher education, in the Harvard College and University of North Carolina cases.
  • Although these cases arise in the context of education and do not formally concern laws governing private-sector employment, we expect that the decision may have far-reaching implications for how courts, lawmakers, employers, and employees address efforts to promote diversity in private-sector workplaces.
  • If the Supreme Court overturns its prior precedents permitting race-conscious affirmative action in higher education and holding that the interest in promoting diversity is a compelling justification for such practices, we expect that such a decision could supercharge the trend of challenges to employer diversity policies and practices.