Gregory Curfman


In Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action in university admissions, in which an applicant of a particular race or ethnicity receives a plus factor, is unconstitutional. This ruling was based on both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This article argues that a more natural fit as the basis for constitutional analysis would be a different clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, the Privileges or Immunities Clause. In the article, a legal analysis based on the clause is applied to medical school admissions. Depending on whether a fundamental rights reading or an antidiscrimination (equality) reading of the clause is applied, opposite conclusions are reached on the constitutionality of affirmative action in medical school admissions. This analysis demonstrates why affirmative action in admissions—in this case medical school admissions, which directly affect the composition of the Nation’s physician workforce—is a complex and difficult constitutional question.