On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the use of race in college admissions decisions.

Background: Conservative student group, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), previously sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina over allegations the schools racially discriminated against Asian Americans. (per The Hill)

SFFA alleges the universities disproportionately rejected Asian American applicants, violating Supreme Court precedent and students’ constitutional rights.

Two lower federal courts rejected the group’s case.

Why It’s Important: The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the challenge tees up the possibility of a landmark case against affirmative action.

Chief Justice John Roberts has been among the most outspoken critics of affirmative action, famously declaring in a 2006 opinion, “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.” (per ABC News)

What SFFA Says: “Harvard’s mistreatment of Asian-American applicants is appalling,” the plaintiffs wrote in their brief in the Harvard case. “That Harvard engages in racial balancing and ignores race-neutral alternatives also proves that Harvard does not use race as a last resort.”

What Harvard Says: Harvard, the nation’s oldest private institution, has defended its admission practices.

“Harvard does not automatically award race-based tips but rather considers race only in a flexible and non-mechanical way; consideration of race benefits only highly qualified candidates; and Harvard does not discriminate against Asian-American applicants,” the school wrote the court in its brief.

Harvard is asking the Supreme Court to affirm its precedent.

*This story is breaking and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

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