In a significant victory for conservative activists, the Supreme Court on Thursday invalidated affirmative action policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, putting an end to 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.
“A Great Day for America”
Leading conservatives who believe that the Constitution should be “colorblind” applauded the decision, with former President Donald Trump calling it “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. Liberals, however, condemned the ruling, saying affirmative action is a key tool for remedying historic race discrimination.
Michelle Obama, the first Black first lady, remarked, “It wasn’t perfect, but there’s no doubt that it helped offer new ladders of opportunity for those who, throughout our history, have too often been denied a chance to show how quickly 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.
The court effectively overruled Grutter v. Bollinger’s 2003 decision, which stated that because colleges had a compelling interest in maintaining diverse campuses, race could be taken into consideration when making admissions decisions. In doing so, the court overturned decades of precedent, including a decision from 1978 that supported taking racial preferences into account in a limited way when deciding who gets into a university in an effort to end historical discrimination against Black people and other minority groups.
The conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only other Black justice, wrote in a concurring opinion that the Grutter case had been “for all intents and purposes, overruled.” Chief Justice John Roberts did not specifically state in the majority opinion that the earlier precedents were overruled.
Both programmes, according to Roberts, “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.”
The decision showed the glaring differences between the justices, who sit on a court that is more diverse than ever. 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.” Legal pragmatism the first Hispanic justice, Sonia Sotomayor, claimed in a statement that the court “stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.” Sotomayor expressed her disapproval by reading aloud in the courtroom a lengthy description of her dissenting opinion.