Supreme Court Strikes Down University Affirmative Action

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action in university admissions is unconstitutional this week. Several justices took specific exception from a dissent written by its newest member, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that in using affirmative action, universities, “concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”

Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College followed two lawsuits regarding race-based admissions standards.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the dissent from Jackson.

“Justice Jackson’s race-infused world view falls flat at each step,” he wrote.

Jackson had called the decision “truly a tragedy for us all.”

“Though Justice Jackson seems to think that her race-based theory can somehow benefit everyone, it is an immutable fact that ‘every time the government uses racial criteria to ‘bring the races together,’ someone gets excluded, and the person excluded suffers an injury solely because of his or her race,” he wrote.

Thomas wrote that the decision clarifies “that all forms of discrimination based on race—including so-called affirmative action—are prohibited under the Constitution; and to emphasize the pernicious effects of all such discrimination.”

President Joe Biden said that the Supreme Court “again walked away from decades of precedent.” 

“I strongly, strongly disagree with the court’s decision,” he said, adding that this was “not a normal court.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) wrote on Twitter that if the court was “serious about their ludicrous “colorblindness” claims, they would have abolished legacy admissions, aka affirmative action for the privileged.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who is Black, praised the court’s decision and also called for the end of legacy admissions, which imparts an increased chance of acceptance based on family ties to the college.

“Let’s make sure that all admissions are based on academic scores and not just eliminating affirmative action, but let’s look at the legacy programs,” he said.