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Supreme Court Rules Against Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to consider race in university admissions, eliminating the principal tool the nation’s most exclusive schools have used to diversify their campuses.


Thursday’s 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. University officials have insisted no substitute for racial preferences exists that can ensure that a representative share of minority applicants—particularly Black students—gains admission to selective institutions.


No longer able to give such applicants an automatic boost, admissions offices now must decide where racial diversity ranks among priorities that can include academic performance, achievement in extracurricular activities such as athletics, and preferences for alumni and donors.

“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. “The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race. Many universities have for too long done just the opposite,” he wrote.

The court’s three liberals dissented. Society “is not, and has never been, colorblind,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. “The Court ignores the dangerous consequences of an America where its leadership does not reflect the diversity of the People.”

Lee Bollinger, Columbia University’s president, expects five years of chaos before higher education fully adjusts to the new legal landscape, as committees and task forces—already in place at many schools—explore ways to employ income levels, socioeconomic factors and other race-neutral factors to maintain diversity. Although long expected, the decision still was a shock to academia. “Nobody really believes it’s going to happen, even though all the evidence is right in front of you,” Bollinger said in an interview this month. Continue reading Here.

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