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Supreme Court ruling allows Jackson to participate in race case


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday took action that will allow new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first black woman, to take part in a case that could lead to an end to the use of race in university admissions.

Jackson, who joined the court on June 30 after Judge Stephen Breyer retired, pledged during his confirmation hearing not to participate in the case over Harvard’s admissions policy because she was a member of the school’s board of trustees.

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. Harvard is a private institution, while North Carolina is a public university.

Jackson’s participation appears unlikely to make much of a difference to the outcome of 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 anticipated issues will likely take place in November or December, but no date has yet been announced.

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

Three other justices also earned their Harvard law degrees: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch. Roberts was also an undergraduate at Harvard, and Kagan served as the dean of the law school for a time.

But none of the other judges have any current or recent role with the university.

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

The court has already taken similar action. In 2020, Judge Sonia Sotomayor uncovered conflict in a dispute between two states over presidential voters. The court gave up on hearing them together and finally issued its major decision in the case in which all the judges participated.

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