Landmark Ruling Delivers Blow to Affirmative Action

Supreme Court rules against race-based admissions policies at colleges
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2023 9:39 AM CDT
SCOTUS Delivers Blow to Affirmative Action
The US Supreme Court is seen on Thursday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling on Thursday against affirmative action, reports the Wall Street Journal. In a 6-3 ruling that split along the court's usual ideological lines, the justices struck down admissions policies that took race into account at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, per the Washington Post. A key point in the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts:

  • "The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race," he wrote. "Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have 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."

Though the ruling dealt with admissions policies at only two colleges, the implications are huge for both colleges and the American workplace in general, notes USA Today. A quick assessment from the New York Times: "The decision was expected to set off a scramble as schools revisit their admissions practices, and it could complicate diversity efforts elsewhere, narrowing the pipeline of highly credentialed minority candidates and making it harder for employers to consider race in hiring." Challengers to the admissions policies called them unfair to white and Asian American students by giving preference to Black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent that the decision "rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress," per the AP. And in a separate dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson called the decision "truly a tragedy for us all." Brown Jackson is the court's first female Black justice. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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