Supreme Court Rejects Affirmative Action in Ruling on Universities Using Race in Admissions Decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court has found that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s admissions policy violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

via: NBC News

The court ruled that both programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and are therefore unlawful. The vote was 6-3 in the UNC case and 6-2 in the Harvard case, in which liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was recused.

The court effectively overturned the 2003 ruling Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the court said race could be considered as a factor in the admissions process because universities had a compelling interest in maintaining diverse campuses. In doing so the court scrapped decades of precedent including one ruling dating to 1978 that upheld a limited consideration of race in university admissions as a way to combat historic discrimination against Black people and other minorities.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts did not explicitly say that the former precedents were overruled, but in a concurring opinion conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, only the second Black justice to serve on the court, said that the Grutter case was “for all intents and purposes, overruled.”

Roberts wrote that 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 end points.”

He also noted that the ruling does not address the consideration of race in military academies. The Biden administration had warned that a ruling curbing affirmative action would detrimentally affect the U.S. military, which depends on a “well-qualified and diverse officer corps” educated at military academies like West Point as well as civilian universities.

Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the court, wrote in a dissenting opinion that the ruling was “truly a tragedy for us all.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another liberal and the first Hispanic justice, wrote that the court “stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.”

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