October 19, 2023

ACS Announces Opposition to Legacy Preference in College and Law School Admissions

Nancy Rodriguez, media@acslaw.org

 Washington, DC – Legacy preference is the practice of giving preference to applicants who have at least one family member who attended the college or law school to which the applicant is applying. While the U.S. Supreme Court has banned race-based affirmative action in college admissions, legacy preference continues to be utilized by numerous colleges and law schools. As part of its commitment to truth, racial healing, and transformation, the American Constitution Society made the decision to oppose the use of legacy preference in university and law school admissions.

“The advantage bestowed on white, wealthy applicants from their legacy status has shown to be greater than that of affirmative action for applicants of color. With affirmative action in college admissions now banned, the retained advantage of legacy preference is even more skewed,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “ACS is committed to redressing systemic racism in our laws and institutions, and that includes addressing the persistent racial gap in access to higher education, including law school. Legacy preference not only disproportionately favors white applicants, but the practice is also rooted in racism with the original goal being to limit Jewish applicants.”

“In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning affirmative action in college admissions, it is imperative that higher education use all tools available to increase the diversity of their student populations,” said ACS Executive Vice President Zinelle October. “Access to higher education directly impacts a person’s career opportunities, lifetime earning potential, and health. Ending the use of legacy preference in university and law school admissions is a key step, but it is insufficient on its own. We want to be clear, ending legacy preference is one step among many that higher education institutions, including law schools, must take to achieve student populations that reflect the diversity of this country.”


The American Constitution Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan legal organization. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, advocates, and many others, our mission is to support and advocate for laws and legal systems that strengthen our democratic legitimacy, uphold the rule of law, and redress the founding failures of our Constitution and enduring inequities in our laws in pursuit of realized equality. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter @acslaw.