Wednesday, June 12, 2024

SCOTUS Overturns Schools’ Affirmative Action as Violation of Equal Protection Clause

'I expect that colleges and universities are already working on the circumvention of the decision...'

(Robert Jonathan, Headline USA) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that affirmative action admissions policies at the college and university level were unconstitutional.

“Ending racial preferences in college admissions is an outcome that the vast majority of all races and ethnicities will celebrate,” said Edward Blum, the founder and president of Students for Fair Admissions, in a statement reacting to the decision.

Blum’s organization was responsible for bringing the pair of lawsuits that challenged the racist policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

“A university doesn’t have real diversity when it simply assembles students who look different but come from similar backgrounds and act, talk, and think alike,” he said.

Unlike the North Carolina redistricting case decided Tuesday, in which Chief Justice John Roberts’s nuanced majority opinion that gave rise to more questions than answers, Thursday’s ruling on affirmative action seemed definitive.

The 6-3 decision, which effectively overruled the 20-year-old Grutter v. Bollinger, is apt to be considered the biggest landmark of the current session, due to end Friday with another anticipated bombshell over the Biden administration’s student-loan amnesty.

Like last year’s Dobbs decision, which overturned the longstanding Roe v. Wade precedent on abortion, the ruling is also likely to incur the wrath of leftists, who have aggressively sought to undermine the legitimacy of the court throughout the intervening year, even as some of the right-leaning court’s decisions have broken in their favor.

Not so on Thursday, as the high court’s majority determined that race-based educational entry policies throughout the U.S. violated the the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which requires equal application of the law.

“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “And the Equal Protection Clause, we have accordingly held, applies ‘without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality’—it is ‘universal in [its] application.'”

In the ruling, Roberts asserted, in part, that protocols based on cosmetic diversity were unlawful.

“[T]he student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race,” he wrote.

“Many universities have for too long done just the opposite,” he continued. “And in doing so, they have 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.”

The full high-court action—comprising 237 pages, which included three concurring opinions and two dissents, as well as the majority opinion—contained a lot to unpack for legal pundits, stakeholders and Americans in general in the hours and days ahead.

“Thursday’s 6-3 decision will force a reworking of admissions criteria throughout American higher education, where for decades the pursuit of diversity has been an article of faith,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

It remained to be seen how, and to what extent, colleges would “rework” their polices.

“I expect that colleges and universities are already working on the circumvention of the decision,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote on Twitter. “They can use essays to identify race, even encouraging students to share any struggles with discrimination.”

Whether connected or not, some previously announced that they were dropping the SAT or other standardized testing results from potential student evaluations.

Ahead of the ruling, several major media outlets, including Politico, reported that schools likely would begin using household incomes and ZIP codes as factors to replace race-based considerations.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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