By Steve Schuster
The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday struck down affirmative action in college admissions, restricting higher education institutions from considering race in college admissions, according to court documents obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal.
In a rare move, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. detailed the affirmative action rulings and Justice Clarence Thomas read from his concurrence in one of the cases.
The ruling effectively alters the plans for admissions for “Harvard College and the University of North Carolina (UNC) (which) are two of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States,” the Court said.
Today’s decision ‘rolls back decades’ of progress, said liberal justices in the dissent.
The Court first considered whether a university may make race based admissions decisions in Bakke, 438 U. S. 265, noting that “for years following Bakke, lower courts struggled to determine whether Justice Powell’s decision was ;binding precedent,'” the Court said.
The Associated Press reported the Supreme Court had twice upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 20 years, including as recently as 2016.
However, that AP notes, that was before the three appointees of former President Donald Trump joined the court.
Lower courts have upheld the programs at both UNC and Harvard, rejecting claims that the schools discriminated against white and Asian-Americans.
Questions remain as how broadly the decision spans. There was previously talk of a broad decision ending allowance for racial considerations in any hiring decisions, subcontracting goals.
The Washington Post reported Thursday with the end of its term looming, the court is also expected to decide soon whether President Biden has the authority to forgive more than $400 million in federal student loan debt — a policy projected to benefit more than 40 million Americans.
Thursday afternoon, Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) issued a statement on the recent ruling.
“While the Court’s ruling is deeply disappointing, we will continue our mission of expanding access to legal education through every means available. We will support our member law schools in their efforts to advance law and justice through holistic admission processes that consider the whole candidate,” LSAC officials said.
Also on Thursday, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s historic decision to overturn Affirmative Action:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is nothing short of a supreme setback for Civil Rights and opportunity for people of color, women, and others historically underrepresented in the halls of higher education.
“Our country has come a long way from our troubled past, but we know there is still more work to be done. Milwaukee County alone is home to some of the largest racial disparities along key social determinants of health, including educational opportunity. The decision of the high court is in direct opposition of our plan to dismantle systemic racism and increase opportunity for all residents no matter their race or zip code.
“We will not back down from our work to achieve race and health equity or cower as some of as our most vulnerable residents see opportunities taken away from them. Today, we double-down on our work and call on our allies to remain steadfast in their commitment to creating opportunity for traditionally marginalized residents.”
This story has been updated.