On Thursday, June 29th, the Supreme Court issued an opinion ruling that the race conscious affirmative action policies used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina were unconstitutional. While these cases were focused on these two university’s specific policies, the ruling will have far reaching consequences for every college and university across the country that uses race as a factor in holistic application processes. In a 6:3 ruling by the conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts claims that their ruling does not overturn prior cases authorizing race-based affirmative action and that how an applicant’s race has affected their life can still be part of how their college application is considered.
However, the dissenting opinions and initial analyses claim that this opinion overturns over 40 years of precedent and will make it nearly impossible for colleges and universities to use admissions policies as valuable tools to increase diversity and ensure equitable consideration of student candidates.
In a rare move, the justices read their dissenting and concurring opinions from the bench. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said “The result of today’s decision is that a person’s skin color may play a role in assessing individualized suspicion, but it cannot play a role in assessing that person’s individualized contributions to a diverse learning environment. That indefensible reading of the Constitution is not grounded in law and subverts the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.”
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said it best in his message to aspiring students, “we see you and we need you. Do not let this ruling deter you from pursuing your educational potential. Our colleges and our country itself cannot thrive and compete in the 21st century without your talent, ingenuity, perseverance, and ambition.”
While Thursday’s decision will be studied in more detail in the coming days and weeks, what is certain is that higher education leaders must continue their commitment to creating campus communities that reflect the diversity of this nation.
Whether they are Black, Latinx, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, or White, every young person still deserves a fair shot at higher education. This decision should not deter young people from applying to colleges and universities or from fully expressing themselves in their college applications and sharing their talents, experiences, how they would contribute to the university community, and how race affects their lives.
Thank you for reading the first blog for this week. We will have a second post this upcoming Wednesday. To listen to our latest All4Ed Flash, click the link below and be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast service and social media. You can find all of our socials on linktree by clicking here.