The points made in this article cannot be overstated. The Hecht-Calandra Act may be an unknown, obscure law to many Americans, including New Yorkers. But this law may be the small crack in the armor that allows conservative legal groups to defeat all race-conscious equity schemes.
McAuliffe PTO is just the latest federal case involving Asian American plaintiffs (though funded and orchestrated by conservative legal strategists Edward Blum and the Pacific Legal Foundation) alleging that racial diversity efforts in admissions discriminate against them, and we can expect more such cases to be filed in the future. (See also Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard.)
If the case makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and if the Court strikes down New York’s effort to tinker with its elite schools’ admissions process (even though the new policy is race-neutral and has only negligible effects on the racial composition of those schools; Mader, 2020), the implications could be far-reaching. For instance, it could lead to further litigation in other cities, like Boston and Chicago, whose elite public schools are more representative of the districts’ student population. It could further limit schools’ ability to adopt race-conscious measures to integrate K-12 schools (a practice that was already on life support after Parents Involved). It could even prompt further limits to or the end of affirmative action in higher education (if the Harvard case doesn’t get there first).