WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled to strike down affirmative action programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard, which ends the consideration of race in the admissions process.
The court ruled in a 6-3 and 6-2 vote that the programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and are unlawful. The Harvard vote was 6-2, which liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself.
The decision was a win for conservatives, who say the Constitution should be “colorblind”. Former president Donald Trump called the decision “a great day for America” while all the Republican candidates for president praised the decision.
“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,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today.”
Justice Sotomayor said the court’s decision “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.”
“It holds that race can no longer be used in a limited way in college admissions to achieve such critical benefits,” she wrote. “In so holding, 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.”
Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the court, accused the majority of a “let-them-eat-cake obliviousness”.
“But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life,” Jackson wrote in a dissent from the UNC decision. “And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences, the Court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems.”
“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 fast they can climb,” said former first lady Michelle Obama.