supreme court

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Race-Based College Admissions Unconstitutional

1 July 2023

2.4 MINS

The decades-long effort to remove racial discrimination from American society saw a major Supreme Court victory this week.

The United States Supreme Court has struck down so-called “affirmative action” in a ruling that will have a lasting impact on college admissions programs across the United States.

The court effectively put an end to racial discrimination in the college admissions process, ruling 6-3 and 6-2 respectively on the two cases in question, the first involving the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the second, Harvard.

Conservatives have hailed the rulings as a victory in the decades-long effort to restore colourblind meritocracy in the institutions of the United States.

Donald Trump’s Role in the Decision

All three justices appointed by President Donald Trump during his tenure in the White House — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett  — ruled that UNC and Harvard had violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, which guarantees all citizens “equal protection of the laws” of the United States.

They also argued that Harvard had violated Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination in federally-funded programs.

The plaintiff in the landmark ruling was Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit organisation that sued the elite schools for unfairly barring white and Asian Americans, whose test scores were higher than other applicants admitted by the universities.

President Donald Trump welcomed the ruling as “a great day for America”.

The decision follows SCOTUS’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade last June, also widely praised as a legacy of Trump’s presidency.

“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. But, despite the dissent’s assertion to the contrary, universities may not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today,” the court’s opinion read.

Democrats Disapprove

Supporters of affirmative action voiced their widespread disapproval of the Supreme Court’s decision.

President Joe Biden called it a “severe disappointment,” while NBC News lamented that the discrimination overruled by SCOTUS had been “a key tool for remedying historic race discrimination”.

NBC News even admitted that the decision was “a major blow to the most selective universities that say some consideration of race is vital in ensuring they have diverse student bodies,” and one that “will lead to a significant drop in the enrolment of minority students”.

Former President Barack Obama suggested that he and his wife had needed affirmative action as a leg-up, in a statement writing that it had “allowed generations of students like Michelle and me to prove we belonged”.

Conservatives Celebrate

Conservative leaders and commentators greeted the decision with celebration.

Republican Representative for Florida Matt Gaetz tweeted, “The Supreme Court has dealt a Critical Blow to Critical Theory: affirmative action has been ruled unconstitutional. Artificial diversity and race-based college admission regimes have been usurped; meritocracy is once again king,” adding, “Equal protection under the law is one of our most sacred principles.”

Podcaster Candace Owens wrote, “What a great day for Asian Americans who have endured flagrant educational discrimination… So glad that you will finally get into the schools that you deserve to get into based on the hard work you put in. #AffirmativeAction is over.”

Journalist Jack Posobiec reminded his followers, “If you’re celebrating the end of affirmative action in universities, make sure to say thank you to the man who made it possible: Donald Trump.”

Republican presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy released a video on Twitter, which he captioned with the words, “Affirmative action is the single greatest form of institutional racism in America today. The Supreme Court just struck it down in college admissions… Time to restore colorblind meritocracy once and for all.”

Image via Unsplash.

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