US Supreme Court bars consideration of race in college admissions

Washington, Jun 29 (EFE).- The United States Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the use of affirmative action at colleges and universities nationwide, finding that Harvard and the University of North Carolina had violated the constitution by using race as a factor in their admissions processes.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion in two separate cases under consideration, was joined by the court’s five other conservative justices in finding that race-conscious admissions policies violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The three progressive justices dissented.

“The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. 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. We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today,” that opinion read.

Even so, the majority opinion said universities can consider an applicants’ experience with racism when making decisions about admissions.

“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,” Roberts wrote.

The US high court specifically examined the admissions processes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, two of the country’s oldest institutions of higher learning, and found they violated the Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits racial discrimination by government entities.

The justices considered two separate affirmative action cases.

In Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina, the plaintiffs argued that the university’s admissions policy discriminated against white and Asian applicants by giving preference to African-Americans, Hispanics and indigenous applicants.

In Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, a group of Asian students accused that prestigious Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university of using subjective criteria to limit the number of individuals accepted from that demographic.

The vote, which broke down along ideological lines, was 6-3 in the North Carolina case and 6-2 in the Harvard case. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a progressive who earned her undergraduate and law degrees at Harvard, recused herself in that latter case.

Another of the court’s progressive justices, Sonia Sotomayor, a longtime defender of the need for universities to consider race in their admissions processes, wrote in a dissenting opinion that the conservative justices had rolled back “decades of precedent and momentous progress.”

“The Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter.”

US President Joe Biden slammed the high court’s ruling, saying Thursday that it had “walked away from decades of precedent.”

He noted that numerous Supreme Court rulings dating back to 1978 had affirmed the view that “colleges could use race, not as a determining factor for admission, but as one of the factors among many in deciding who to admit from a qualified pool of applicants.”

“Many people wrongly believe that affirmative action allows unqualified students to be admitted ahead of qualified students. This is not how college admissions work. Rather, colleges set out standards for admission, and every student has to meet those standards.”

“We cannot let this decision be the last word,” the president said. “The court can render a decision, it cannot change what America stands for.”

Biden called for “a new path forward, a path consistent with a law that protects diversity and expands opportunity.”

But former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024, said the ruling was a “great day for America.”

“People with extraordinary ability and everything else necessary for success, including future greatness for our Country, are finally being rewarded,” he said in a post on Truth Social. EFE

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