Monday, June 17, 2024

Supreme Court Overturns Affirmative Action, Black and Hispanic Students Benefits Gone

The Supreme Court says colleges and universities can no longer consider race as a specific basis for granting admission, a landmark decision overturning affirmative action that has benefited Black and Latino students in higher education.  

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the conservative majority, saying the Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions programs violated the Equal Protection Clause because they failed to offer “measurable” objectives to justify the use of race. He said the programs involved racial stereotyping and had no specific endpoint. 

“The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful endpoints. We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today,” Roberts wrote. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, the second Black person to join the Supreme Court, spoke in unusually personal terms as he criticized the use of affirmative action policies by colleges and universities, which he described as “rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes.” 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, issued a fiery dissent, saying the opinion “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.” 

In her dissent, Jackson, the only Black woman on the bench, accused the majority of having a “let-them-eat-cake obliviousness” in how the ruling announced “‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat.” 

Jackson wrote that the majority had “detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences.” 

“No one benefits from ignorance,” she added. 

The ruling says that US military service academies can continue considering race as a factor in admissions. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hailed the affirmative action decision, saying that the justices “just ruled that no American should be denied educational opportunities because of race.” And Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “This is a great day for all Americans.” 

CNN Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates said the Supreme Court’s decision would have sweeping changes to education in the US. 

“This opinion, make no mistake about it, it is going to change the landscape of education, and this is what the majority has asked for,” she said. 

Challengers in the case targeted Harvard and the University of North Carolina, arguing that their programs violate equal protection principles with the discrimination against Asian Americans. They asked the court to overturn the precedent and insist that higher education should explore and further develop race-neutral alternatives to achieve diversity.