Affirmative Action: “Supreme Court’s Quest for Equality.”

In a major triumph for conservative activists, the Supreme Court on Thursday revoked affirmative action policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, abolishing the systematic consideration of race in admissions.

The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution is violated by both programmes, the court found, and as a result they are both illegal. In the UNC case, the result was 6-3, and in the Harvard case, when liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was recused, the vote was 6-2.

Leading conservatives applauded the decision, insisting that the Constitution should be “colorblind,” with former President Donald Trump describing it as “a great day for America.” Liberals, on the other hand, denounced the decision, arguing that affirmative action is an important instrument for redressing historical racial discrimination.

Former first lady Michelle Obama, the first Black woman to hold the position, said, “It wasn’t perfect, but there’s no doubt that it helped offer new ladders of opportunity for those who, throughout our history, have often been denied a chance to show how fast they can climb.”

The judgement, according to President Joe Biden, was a “serious disappointment,” and he added that his government will offer recommendations on how institutions could maintain diversity without breaking the law.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote Racial prejudice must go in its entirety. Since they were unable to provide “measurable” goals to support the use of race, the Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions procedures broke the Equal Protection Clause. He claimed that the initiatives encompass racial stereotyping and lack a clear goal.

However, the court’s ruling did not go so far as to forbid any discussion of race in admissions; for instance, if applicants wish to write about how their racial identity has influenced them, the court appears to be in agreement.

Strong Disagreement

In a dissenting opinion, Jackson, the first Black woman to sit on the court, stated that the decision was “truly a tragedy for us all.” Justice Sonia Sotomayo first Hispanic justice said the Court stands in the way and undermines decades of precedent and significant advancement.

The American Medical Association’s president, Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, issued a statement prior to the decision saying that efforts to eliminate affirmative action undermine decades of progress in generating a diverse physician workforce and would undo gains made in the fight against health disparities.

Affirmative action supreme court
Affirmative action supreme court: Demonstrators in favor of affirmative action in Washington. Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Lee Jones, dean of medical school at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, stated that Black residents in Washington, D.C., live fifteen years less than white residents, and that the ruling will hurt attempts to reduce the country’s enormous racial and health inequities.

Jackson, the lone Black woman on the bench, accused the majority of having “let them eat cake obliviousness”. However, she added, “just because it is meaningless under the law, does not mean it is irrelevant in life.

The few schools that have admissions processes that are fiercely competitive are most affected. They forecast that decisions against the universities will result in a sharp decline in the number of minority students enrolled, forcing admissions managers to test out novel racial-neutral strategies to mitigate the effect. Most institutions accept practically all applicants, therefore they won’t be as significantly impacted.

Among many of the numerous colleges having admissions procedures that are affected by the judgement some are Yale University, Brown University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College.

The verdict puts more pressure on institutions to develop practical race-neutral programmes that would promote racial diversity, and is expected to have effects far beyond higher education, notably on K–12 schools. As identical arguments might be made under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination in employment, the ruling could also result in future challenges against racial diversity initiatives undertaken by companies.

Since it was first implemented to address historical discrimination, affirmative action has been a divisive topic. Conservatives oppose it because they believe that racial equality requires that all races be treated equally, while corporations and educational institutions strongly support it as essential to foster diversity.

Although racial quotas were outlawed by the Supreme Court in a contentious 1978 decision, the justices left the door open to some consideration of race, which left the legal dispute that gave rise to the most recent case unsolved. Following that, the 2003 Grutter decision reluctantly permitted some affirmative action programmes.

The University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policy was barely sustained by the Supreme Court in 2016, the most recent time the court addressed affirmative action, on a 4-3 vote, with conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has since retired, delivering the deciding vote.

The court shifted to the right after then-President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices. Jackson’s appointment by Joe Biden did not change the court’s ideological make-up because she replaced fellow liberal Justice Stephen Breyer. Jackson withdrew from that case and only took part in the North Carolina issue because she was a member of the board of overseers for Harvard during the litigation.

Blum’s group asserted that both Title VI and the Constitution forbid the use of race in decision-making regarding college admissions. They claimed that the Harvard policy discriminates against Asians and UNC admissions policy discriminates against white and Asian applicants.

Universities and others who support them, such as the Biden administration, civil rights organisations, corporations, and former military commanders, have defended their practices by claiming that discrimination on the basis of race is quite distinct from promoting diversity on campuses. The universities claim that a thorough, individualized review of each candidate includes a variety of factors, with race being just one of them.

The University of North Carolina, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said her college continues to be staunchly committed to adding talented students with distinct viewpoints and life experiences together and keeps on making an excellent educational experience at an affordable price accessible to the people of North Carolina and beyond.

In a statement, Harvard administrators reaffirmed their dedication to “the fundamental principle that deep and trans-formative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences.

We will decide how to sustain, consistent with the Court’s new precedent, our core values in the coming weeks and months by drawing on the skill and experience of our Harvard community, the institution stated.

However US military service academies can keep using race as a deciding factor when considering applicants.

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