President Joe Biden criticised the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action programs in higher education admissions on Thursday, saying “I strongly, strongly disagree with the Court’s decision.”

The president echoed the dissenting Justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, in his reaction to the ruling, which ends the long-standing precedent that allowed colleges and universities to use affirmative action to help establish a diverse group of accepted students.

“Discrimination still exists in America. Today’s decision does not change that,” Mr Biden said in a brief press conference.

He added: “I believe our colleges are stronger when they’re racially diverse. Our nation is stronger because we are tapping into the full range of talent in this nation. We cannot let this decision be the last word.”

The rulings come from two consolidated cases, Students for Fair Admissions v University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard College.

Both cases were brought forth by the anti-affirmative action organisation Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) which is headed by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum.

In a 6-3 and 6-2 decision, the Court’s conservative majority sided with Students for Fair Admissions claiming the use of race-conscious admissions was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Now, higher education institutions will no longer be allowed to consider race as a factor in admissions. Instead, students who wish to have their race or culture considered in their application will have to volunteer the information like in their personal essay.

At the end of the press conference, Mr Biden responded to a question about the court’s decision to strike down a long-standing precedent: “This is not a normal Court.”

Leaders from Harvard said in a letter that they would “comply” with the court’s decision but emphasised that “deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences.”

Mr Biden said he is directing the Department of Education to analyse best practices for high education institutions to create more inclusive and diverse student bodies without using race as a conscious factor in admissions and recruiting.

The Harvard Black Students Association called the court’s decision, “detrimental”, adding that it “poses a significant threat to the future of the Black community on and beyond our campus.”

“It is evident that the college application system cannot maintain holistic evaluation without taking into consideration how race profoundly influences our experiences, perspectives, and identities in multifaceted ways,” the Harvard Black Students Association wrote.

Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement: “In a society still scarred by the wounds of racial disparities, the Supreme Court has displayed a willful ignorance of our reality.”

Discussions around affirmative action have generated debate among Republicans and Democrats for years. Those in support of it believe it is necessary to create fair and equal opportunity for students of color because higher education institutions have failed at creating diverse student bodies.

Those against affirmative action believe it puts other students, like white or Asian American students, at a disadvantage.

Former president Donald Trump celebrated the ruling calling it “everyone was waiting for” in a post on Truth Social. 

“We’re going back to all merit-based – and that’s the way it should be!” Mr Trump wrote.

Mr Trump appointed three of the six conservative Justices on the Court while serving as President of the United States – Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Mr Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, also expressed support for the Court’s decision, writing on Twitter, “I am honored to have played a role in appointing three of the Justices that ensured today’s welcomed decision.”

He added: “There is no place for discrimination based on race in the United States, and I am pleased that the Supreme Court has put an end to this egregious violation of civil and constitutional rights in admissions processes, which only served to perpetuate racism.”

The ruling will likely have repercussions beyond higher education institutions, extending to elementary, middle and high schools as well as workplaces and more as it opens a door for challenges to racial diversity programs.

Source link