On Thursday, the US Supreme Court made a significant decision by prohibiting the consideration of race and ethnicity in university admissions. This ruling has had a significant impact on a long-standing practice that aimed to enhance educational opportunities for African-Americans and other minority groups.
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts emphasized the importance of treating students as individuals, rather than making decisions based on their race.
The decision, which followed years of conservative opposition to “affirmative action” policies aimed at promoting diversity in school admissions and hiring practices, resulted in a six to three split among the justices along conservative-liberal lines.
The court ruled that universities had the freedom to take into account an individual applicant’s personal experiences, such as their exposure to racism while growing up, when evaluating their application in comparison to applicants who may have higher academic qualifications.
Roberts wrote that making decisions primarily based on an applicant’s race, whether they are white, Black, or other, is a form of racial discrimination.
He stated that our constitutional history does not permit such a decision.
In a recent court ruling, the activist group Students for Fair Admissions emerged victorious in their lawsuit against two prestigious educational institutions, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC). The lawsuit specifically targeted the admissions policies of these oldest private and public universities in the nation.
The group argued that race-conscious admissions policies resulted in discrimination against Asian Americans who were equally or more qualified, as they competed for admission to the two universities.
Similar to many other highly competitive universities in the United States, Harvard and UNC take into account an applicant’s race or ethnicity as one of the factors in order to promote diversity and ensure representation of minority groups within their student body.
The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s led to the development of affirmative action policies, which were designed to assist in addressing the historical discrimination faced by African Americans in higher education.
Thursday’s decision marked a triumph for conservatives, many of whom have contended that affirmative action is inherently unjust.
Some individuals argue that the policy is no longer necessary as educational opportunities for Blacks and other minorities have significantly improved, according to their perspective.ADVERTISEMENT
However, the decision dealt a significant blow to progressive advocates, occurring just one year after the court’s reversal of the groundbreaking 1973 “Roe v. Wade” ruling, which established a woman’s constitutional right to access abortion.
Following the elimination of federally guaranteed abortion rights, nearly half of the 50 states swiftly implemented bans or significant restrictions on the practice.
The potential outcome of the affirmative action ruling may lead to numerous states and institutions discontinuing programs aimed at providing additional opportunities for disadvantaged minorities in the highly competitive college admissions process.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, at the forefront of the dissenters, expressed her belief that the decision represents a significant setback, undoing years of established legal precedent and substantial advancements.
She wrote that by doing so, the Court establishes a surface-level principle of colorblindness as a constitutional rule in a society that is inherently segregated.