The case was originally brought against Harvard in 2014 by conservative activist group Students for Fair Admissions on the basis that Harvard and the University of North Carolina discriminate against white and Asian American applicants, The Boston Globe reported.
Since the case was filed, two lower courts have sided with Harvard. A federal district court sided with UNC in October with a similar ruling, according to the Globe.
However, the Supreme Court has recently shifted to the right — with two new conservative justices appointed in the last four years — and the resultant conservative supermajority could rule against the affirmative action policies, The New York Times reported.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh — nominated by President Donald Trump in 2018 — is known for building a case against affirmative action despite dodging questions on it during his confirmation hearings.
The original complaint filed by Students for Fair Admissions claimed that all of the Ivies had similar proportions of Asian American students each year, suggesting that there was a cap. Harvard denied these allegations, and Penn along with the rest of the Ivy League and nine private universities defended affirmative action policies in a joint brief in 2018.
Former Dean of Admissions Eric Furda told The Daily Pennsylvanian in 2018 that Penn does not discriminate against any race in its admissions process.
“Penn Admissions considers many individual factors in the decision process including high school courses, grades, test scores, recommendations, personal essays, alumni interviews, background and experiences, and accomplishments. In the process, we do not discriminate against any racial, religious, ethnic or other group of applicants," Furda wrote in a written statement at the time.