“The Supreme Court’s Ruling Against Affirmative Action: A Comprehensive Breakdown

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Today, my heart shatters for every young individual grappling with uncertainty about their future,” expressed Michelle Obama in response to the contentious verdict.

This week, the American education system faced severe setbacks due to the Supreme Court’s actions. Firstly, on June 29, the Court invalidated affirmative action programs at both the University of North Carolina and Harvard College. Just a day later, they blocked President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, which aimed to provide up to $20,000 in debt relief to millions of Americans. These decisions are widely regarded as significant triumphs for the conservative faction.

To understand the rulings against affirmative action, here is a comprehensive overview:

What exactly is affirmative action?

Affirmative action refers to programs and policies designed to promote inclusivity among underrepresented groups based on factors such as race, gender, sexuality, and more. Typically, educational institutions and employers employ affirmative action programs to foster diversity in learning and work environments.

In 2003, the Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger established a long-standing precedent by affirming that the University of Michigan Law School could prioritize “underrepresented minority groups” without violating the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, as long as other factors were also considered.

However, despite this precedent, NBC News reports that Black and Latino students remain underrepresented in selective and highly selective colleges and universities, where acceptance rates are below 50% and 20%, respectively. These demographics also face underrepresentation in many flagship universities across multiple states.

What was the 2023 ruling on affirmative action?

The ruling, available for reading here, effectively deemed affirmative action in college admissions unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts, in his extensive 40-page opinion, asserted that these programs lack specific, measurable objectives that justify the use of race. Furthermore, he argued that they inadvertently perpetuate negative racial stereotypes and lack meaningful endpoints.

While Roberts did state that universities could consider an applicant’s personal account of how race influenced their life, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, effectively declared that the ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger had been practically overruled.

What were the dissenting opinions?

The ruling against North Carolina received a 6-3 vote, with dissenting opinions from Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elana Kagan. On the other hand, the ruling against Harvard passed with a 6-2 vote, with Justice Jackson recusing herself due to her position on the Harvard advisory board.

Justice Jackson, the first Black woman on the Court, described the decision as a tragedy for all. Justice Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, argued that this ruling would solidify a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in a society plagued by endemic segregation, where race has always been and continues to be significant.

What were the reactions?

President Biden vehemently expressed his disagreement with the decision during a speech at the White House on June 29. He firmly believes that colleges thrive when they embrace racial diversity, stating, “Our nation’s strength stems from tapping into the full range of talent available.”

Vice President Kamala Harris characterized the ruling as a step backward for the nation, asserting that it would hinder students from underrepresented backgrounds in accessing opportunities that help them reach their full potential. She emphasized that diminished diversity in schools would negatively impact the educational experience for all students.

Michelle Obama, in a poignant statement, reflected on her own experience as one of the few Black students on her campus, stating, “Today, my heart breaks for any young person out there who’s wondering what their future holds and what chances will be open to them.” For her full post, please refer to the link provided.


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Former President Barack Obama retweeted his wife’s statement and added his own brief response, remarking, “Affirmative action was never a complete solution in the quest for a more equitable society. However, for generations of students systematically excluded from America’s pivotal institutions, it provided an opportunity to prove that we more than deserved a seat at the table.”

In another statement, he expressed, “Like any policy, affirmative action wasn’t flawless. Yet, it allowed students like Michelle and me to demonstrate our worthiness. Now, it falls upon all of us to grant young people the opportunities they deserve and enable students everywhere to benefit from fresh perspectives.”

As anticipated, Donald Trump hailed this as “a great day for America,” while Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis lauded the decision on Twitter.

Conversely, numerous Democrats, including Senator Bernie Sanders, criticized the ruling on Twitter.

Please note that this post may be updated to reflect any developments.”

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