Six of nine leaders serving as the “final arbiters of the law” and “guardians of the constitution” ruled in favor of ending affirmative action in higher education, gutting a historical landmark ruling that supported admissions policies that have benefitted Black and Latino students pursuing higher education for years.
In a time where Black people seem to finally be getting their flowers following a difficult 2022, from cultural moments to racial reparations, we’ve once again fallen back into another wave of oppressive, anti-black systems at work.
One step forward, two steps back.
In a 6 to 3 ruling in the UNC case and 6 to 2 in the Harvard case, voices of reason and dissent were that of the liberal minority comprised of Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and recently appointed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who recused herself from Harvard decision as a Harvard alum and previous board member.
Although many criticized her recusal, her absence wouldn’t have had much influence, as shown in the UNC ruling, as the bench is heavily conservative. The majority opinion ruled that affirmative action and the race-based admissions guidelines imposed by the two universities go against the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause, and therefore are unconstitutional.
A major point of criticism, the only other black member of the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas Clarence, whose education and career is directly supported by affirmative action, was and has been an avid protestor of affirmative action. He was one of the six conservative seats that voted to end it.
Although reasonings included in the majority arguments is that applicants should be evaluated as individuals and not on the basis of race, the dissenting arguments called attention to how it’s impossible to evaluate students without the consideration of race in a society that fails to uphold racial equity.
With this in mind, many are scrutinizing the decision to end affirmative action as it pertains to race without addressing other systems of affirmative action that pertain to athletes and legacy applicants, which typically benefit traditionally represented groups and classes.
“When it is applied to white Americans, it seems to be noncontroversial,” Michael Eric Dyson said on ABC News, “When applied to African American people, not so much.”
The decision will have a trickle effect as each state and university still has the ability to communicate what the ruling means for their individual admissions processes.