Legal Memorandum: U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Students for Fair Admissions and Potential Implications on the Charitable Sector
On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States announced their opinion in a pair of cases — Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina (collectively “SFFA”). The Court held that “Harvard’s and UNC’s admissions programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
In advance of this ruling, Independent Sector and Council on Foundations commissioned Steptoe & Johnson LLP to prepare a memorandum analyzing the potential direct or indirect impact of this decision on the charitable sector.
The memo concludes that, while direct legal impact is limited to higher education institutions that are public or receive public funds, it is conceivable that SFFA’s framework may be applied to other contexts in the future.
Steptoe identifies certain areas warranting consideration, including race-conscious decisions relating to scholarships, grantmaking, fellowships, and the collection of demographic data, in order to assist member organizations in thinking about potential litigation risks and implications should SFFA’s framework be applied more broadly.
For additional background and analysis on SFFA’s potential implications for the charitable sector, read the full memorandum. It is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Steptoe & Johnson Analysis: Commissioned by the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector, this memorandum includes background and analysis on the potential implications of the Supreme Court’s decision for nonprofits and foundations.
Philanthropic Joint Statement: Led by Independent Sector Members The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ford Foundation, this joint statement is signed by more than 120 organizations, including IS.