Believing that social systems are fair confers palliative benefits via different mechanisms. Although the minimization of group-based discrimination plays a central role in this process, the direction of this association is contested. We address this debate by using eight waves of nationally representative longitudinal panel data to model the temporal ordering of system justification (SJ) and perceptions of group-based discrimination across ethnic minorities (n = 7,159) and Whites (n = 18,140). Consistent with SJ theory and the original status-legitimacy hypothesis, system-justifying beliefs precede (and reduce) perceptions of group-based discrimination among minorities, whereas the corresponding association is positive and bidirectional for members of the ethnic majority group. These results are the first to demonstrate important asymmetries in both the direction and temporal ordering of SJ and perceptions of group-based discrimination across ethnic minority and majority populations.