Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action

The U.S. Supreme Court today eliminated race-conscious admissions, or affirmative action, in selecting students for college admissions. 

The ruling was hailed by former President Donald Trump, who packed the Court with conservatives, setting in motion today’s decision. President George H.W. Bush also aided and abetted ultra-conservative court decisions by appointing Justice Clarence Thomas to the Court. He is now the conservative Court’s leader.

But President Joseph Biden accused the Court of walking away from decades of precedent in overturning affirmative action. “This not a normal court,†President Biden said.

The NAACP lambasted Thomas, who voted with the majority to overturn affirmative action, which has been a legal precedent for 20 years.

Even before the Court issued its ruling, conservative commentators predicted that affirmative action was on life support. The ruling comes a year after the Court overturned Roe vs. Wade which prevented women’s right to abortion.

By a vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that the admissions programs used by the University of North Carolina and Harvard College violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which bars racial discrimination by government entities.

The ruling involved two court cases at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. In the Harvard case, the Court’s majority voted to overturn affirmative action in a 6-2 decision. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who until last year served on Harvard’s board of overseers, recused herself from the Harvard case and therefore joined Sotomayor’s dissent as it applied to the UNC case. 

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts explained that college admissions programs could consider race merely to allow an applicant to explain how their race influenced their character in a way that would have a concrete effect on the university. But a student “must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not based on race,” Roberts wrote in SCOTUSBlog, which reports the news of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Harvard leadership said it found a loophole. The school issued a statement, saying they relied on a line in the opinion by Chief Justice Roberts that “nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Sotomayer’s opinion was joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

Sotomayor emphasized that the majority’s decision had rolled “back decades of precedent and momentous progress” and “cement[ed] a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society,†SCOTUSBlog reports.

The NAACP, the nation’s largest civil rights organization, blasted Justice Thomas for voting with the majority to overturn affirmative action.

“Race plays an undeniable role in shaping the identities of and quality of life for Black Americans. In a society still scarred by the wounds of racial disparities, the Supreme Court has displayed a willful ignorance of our reality, “said Derrick Johnson, CEO and President of NAACP.

This is not a Black and White issue. Black commentator Larry Elder and Sen. Scott, the only Black Republican Senator in the U.S. Senate, hailed the Court’s decision.