“We Dissent” NHeLP Decries Affirmative Action Ruling

“We Dissent” NHeLP Decries Affirmative Action Ruling

On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court  (again) overturned decades of legal precedent when it struck down affirmative action in college admission in Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v University of North Carolina. The Court determined that obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a racially diverse student body was not a sufficiently compelling rationale to allow Harvard and UNC to continue to use race-conscious admissions policies. 

Here at the National Health Law Program, we dissent. 

We dissent for the same reasons as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson dissents when she (commenting only on Students for Fair Admissions v University of North Carolina) says, “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces “colorblindness for all” by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences, the Court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problem.”

We dissent for the same reasons as Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she says, “{T}he Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter. The Court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.”

Institutional racism is interwoven in the fabric of American history. Centuries of legislation and policy that centered the societal construct of whiteness have led to disparities for Black, Indigenous, and  people of color – disparities in wealth, disparities in health outcomes, and disparities in opportunities. Ignoring the impact of centuries of state-sanctioned discrimination does not negate these disparities; it compounds them. Affirmative action in college admissions has provided Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, and  LGBTQIA+ communities with equitable access to academic opportunities that may not have been readily available to them due to institutional racism. Sadly, on June 29, SCOTUS decided to perpetuate racial inequality in academia. 

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