In a historic and momentous decision, the Supreme Court has resoundingly ruled that the affirmative action policies pursued by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina blatantly violate the Constitution. With a solid majority of 6-3, Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett in delivering this crucial verdict. Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor expressed dissenting opinions. Notably, Jackson recused herself from the Harvard ruling due to her involvement on a board associated with the university.
The opinion of the Court unequivocally underscores the imperative of treating students as individuals based on their unique experiences rather than making admissions decisions based on their race. It unequivocally condemns universities that have persistently chosen to prioritize racial considerations over personal achievements, acquired skills, and lessons learned. The Supreme Court has declared that such an approach is incompatible with our constitutional principles.
In his written opinion, Chief Justice Roberts asserts that the admissions systems employed by the universities in question not only do not comply with the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause but also perpetuate negative stereotypes and treat race as a decisive factor in the admissions process. The Court takes a critical stance against the universities’ feeble arguments, suggesting that race is not a negative factor and asserting that the demographic composition of admitted classes would significantly change without race-based admissions.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court points out the lack of a meaningful connection between the universities’ pursued goals and the methods they employ. It raises valid concerns about the imprecision and arbitrariness inherent in the racial categories utilized by the institutions. The Court astutely argues that such opaque and broad categorizations undermine the universities’ professed commitment to diversity and inclusion, as they fail to account for the unique characteristics and needs of specific racial and ethnic groups. The ruling rightly questions the credibility of the universities’ claims and unequivocally dismisses their request for deference in utilizing race as a factor in admissions. Havard applications have different chances of admission depending upon their race. The lowest acceptance was Asians, followed by Whites.
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The lawsuit challenging these affirmative action policies was championed by Students for Fair Admissions, seeking to overturn previous lower court rulings that upheld the universities’ programs. This momentous Supreme Court decision serves as a resounding victory for equal protection principles and the constitutionally mandated fairness in college admissions. It signals a much-needed setback for the flawed and divisive practices of affirmative action. It can potentially bring about a reevaluation of similar policies at other institutions across the nation.
Perhaps the most important opinion written comes from Justice Clearance Thomas. Born into poverty in the Deep South during the Jim Crow Era, Justice Thomas possesses a poignant and powerful perspective on the issue. In the opinion released on Thursday, Justice Thomas did not shy away from addressing the grave failure of our nation: slavery and its aftermath. He also criticized the Court’s misinterpretation of the Reconstruction Amendments, echoing the concerns raised by Justice Harlan in Plessy.
Thomas firmly stated that we must not repeat this mistake simply because we believe that current arrangements are superior to the Constitution like our predecessors did. Moreover, Thomas emphasized that this ruling brings America closer to achieving a more perfect union that lives up to its promise, transcending the stains of past racism. While acknowledging the social and economic hardships that have afflicted his race and all victims of discrimination, he maintained an enduring hope that our country would fulfill the principles eloquently articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.