Affirmative action: Race can’t be considered in college admission, Supreme Court rules

Jun 29, 2023, 3:48 PM

Affirmative action...

Activists demonstrate as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a pair of cases that could decide the future of affirmative action in college admissions, in Washington, Oct. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action in college admissions, declaring race cannot be a factor in admitting students. The ruling forces institutions of higher education to look for new ways to achieve diverse student bodies.

The court’s conservative majority effectively overturned cases reaching back 45 years in invalidating admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

Reaction from Washington state political and thought leaders came quickly.

“These Republican-appointed judges have again shown their disdain for well-established principles of American law,” Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said. “They’ve demonstrated they are blind to the fact that our long history of racism contributes to the opportunity barriers ethnic minorities still face today.”

Many legal scholars celebrated this ruling as a landmark decision that will define Justice John Roberts’ tenure as chief justice. But others criticized the decision, noting it overturns precedent that they say benefited Black and Latino students in higher education.

“Today’s decision from the Supreme Court removes a critical tool in ensuring equity in college admissions,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said. “It doesn’t do anyone any good to pretend that race-based discrimination never existed in America or that serious inequities don’t still remain today.”

Jason Rantz, of The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, said the ruling “should be celebrated by every American who rightly condemns racism.”

“Affirmative action policies pick and choose which people to help or hurt on the sole basis of race,” he explained. “We used to call this view racist until the radical left became obsessed with identity and started to forward a false (but lucrative) claim that every institution is steeped in white supremacy culture.”

Gee Scott, or The Gee & Ursula Show on KIRO, had a different view.

“I’m going to flat out, come out and say it: There’s only one ethnicity in this country that has been enslaved on this land, only one,” Gee said.

“And as black folks, we could talk about the income inequality, we can talk about the real estate, we can talk about every other angle of systemic issues, where there have been laws, to specifically oppress one group of people, and has been continued.

“And so every single time there feels to be an opportunity to come up or to gain ground. There’s always something in the way in our history that still stood there and said, ‘Nope, not now.'”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — the court’s first Black female justice — called the decision “truly a tragedy for us all.”

Jackson, who sat out the Harvard case because she had been a member of an advisory governing board, wrote in her dissenting opinion, “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

More from Jason Rantz on the ruling

Rantz, however, rejects the notion that everyone who shares the same skin color should be presumed to be a victim of oppression.

“Like most Americans, I believe that black people and Asians are as qualified as Hispanics and white and Native Americans,” Rantz said. “That we’re all due basic fairness, opportunity, and an assumption that we’re not less than because of some characteristic beyond our control; that not every black or white American is either a victim of invisible racist systems or a beneficiary of equally invisible white privilege.”

Colleges & universities react: There are ways around the affirmative action ruling

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion that for too long 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.”

“A black Supreme Court justice helped make this decision and it should be celebrated, yet his accomplishments are diminished by folks who resent black success because it gets in the way of a cottage industry of partisans who benefit from smearing our country as racist,” Rantz said.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the nation’s second Black justice who had long called for an end to affirmative action, wrote separately that the decision “sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes.”

“We’re told Thomas is an exception, yet we have scores of black Americans who are successful CEOs, lawyers, business owners, and artists. We had a twice-elected black president, a sitting black vice president, and a black senator currently running to be president,” Rantz said. “Those sure are a lot of exceptions; one might think we’d celebrate these successes in a fair country, rather than pretend (it has not) been earned.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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Affirmative action: Race can’t be considered in college admission, Supreme Court rules