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U.S. Supreme Court slashes affirmative action programs


In a country with a history steeped in racism and discrimination, the U.S. Supreme Court moves to slash diversity admissions programs

In 1983, while serving as a lawyer in the administration of then President Ronald Reagan, attorney John Roberts characterized affirmative action as ‘highly objectionable’ in a response to the Fifty States Project in a January 1983 memo.

Supreme Court Justice, Roberts’ decades old views on this subject carried the day with a majority decision slashing Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s race-based admissions standards.

The High Court ruled 6-3 against helping Black and Brown students after having suffered decades of discrimination on the higher learning playing field. The Supreme Court’s decision will not just impact Black students.

Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and Latino students desiring to attend the state-funded Public White Institutions of higher learning may now be blocked from doing so by this ruling.

University admissions boards now have an unbridled ability to disregard or push aside a minority student that meets and/or surpasses the academic criterion needed to gain acceptance in favor of legacies, the sons or daughters of alumni, the wealthy, and the well-connected.

The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the equal protection clause,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority in the case of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College. “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.” Roberts went on to say, “In other words, the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race. Many universities have for too long done just the opposite.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said in the dissent, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

“And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences, the court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems,” Justice Brown Jackson continued.

“No one benefits from ignorance. Although formal race linked legal barriers are gone, race still matters to the lived experiences of all Americans in innumerable ways, and today’s ruling makes things worse, not better,” said Justice Brown Jackson.

Many across the country feel that the decision is trying to turn back parts of time as it relates to Blacks and other minorities receiving a quality education. 

Vice President Kamala Harris condemned the decision by the Supreme Court during the Global Black Economic Forum at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans.

As an audience looked on, Harris instructed attendees to read Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s decision, dissenting against the majority. Harris said Justice Brown Jackson’s dissent was “brilliant”. 

Harris said, “The disappointment is because this is now a moment where the court has not fully understood the importance of ‘equal opportunity’ for the people of our country. And it is in so very many ways a denial of opportunity. And it is a complete misnomer to suggest this is about colorblind, when in fact, it is about being blind to history. Being blind to data. Being blind to empirical evidence about disparities. Being blind to the strength that diversity brings to classrooms, to boardrooms. Our administration will use all the tools in our power to continue to applaud policies that understand the importance and the significance and the strength of diversity in all of those places.”

Harris paraphrased Coretta Scott King who famously said, “The fight for equality, the fight for freedom, fight for justice, the fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation.”

Many wonder if the ruling will ultimately benefit Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a surge of enrollment, but are certain that the ruling will likely lead to a more White student population at the Public White Institutions.


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