Supreme Court Deals Stunning Blow to Affirmative Action in College Admissions

In a stunning blow to diversity in higher education and civil rights in general, the Supreme Court effectively gutted affirmative action in college admissions on Thursday. 

The conservative-led Court overturned the admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. It argued that Harvard and UNC’s admissions programs violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Chief Justice John Roberts stated that for a long time, universities have “concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, the second Black Supreme Court justice in history and an opponent of affirmative action, wrote that the ruling “sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes.”

The vote in the UNC and Harvard cases were 6-3 and 6-2, respectively. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case because she served on the college’s board of overseers and earned her undergraduate and law degrees there.

Nevertheless, Justice Jackson, the nation’s first Black female Supreme Court Justice, called the decision a “tragedy for us all.”

Justice Jackson offered her dissenting opinion: “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

Predictably, 2024 Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lauded the Supreme Court’s decision. 

However, the ruling also drew sharp and furious criticism, with notable figures speaking about the potential long-term ramifications of the decision.


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