Welp, the right-wing-dominated U.S. Supreme Court has done it again.
Just as the court decided last year that a pregnant person’s body isn’t their own to make decisions for, the conservative court has now made a decision that reverses decades of precedent by prohibiting colleges and universities from considering race or ethnicity in their admissions processes. It’s almost as if the highest court in America currently only recognizes two protected classes; men and white people.
Essentially, the court decided Thursday Court found that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s admissions policy violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by way of affirmative action, which, since 1961, has prohibited schools, employers and other American institutions from resting in their natural habitats of white supremacy and denying opportunities to people based on their “race, creed, color, or national origin.”
“It could end the ability of colleges and universities — public and private — to do what most say they still need to do: consider race as one of many factors in deciding which of the qualified applicants is to be admitted,” NPR reported.
But apparently, it doesn’t matter if administrators at most colleges and universities insist that including race and ethnicity among other factors remains a necessary part of the admissions process, because white conservatives need to believe that merit, not systemic racial bias, is what keeps white people at the top of the social totem pole.
NPR reports that Chief Justice John Roberts, a longtime critic of racial preferences of any kind, wrote the court’s majority decision, saying that the nation’s colleges and universities must use colorblind criteria in admissions.
“The Court has permitted race-based college admissions only within the confines of narrow restrictions: such admissions programs must comply with strict scrutiny, may never use race as a stereotype or negative, and must — at some point — end,” the court wrote in its majority opinion. “Respondents’ admissions systems fail each of these criteria and must therefore be invalidated under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The ruling in the UNC case was 6-3 along ideological lines; in the Harvard case, it was 6-2, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recusing.
NPR adds that the majority continued stating,
“At the same time, nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university. Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin. This Nation’s constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”
Again, the conservative justices are basically pretending there has ever been a “colorblind criteria” for whose road to advancement is less polluted with hurdles historically or currently in America. In truth, the gutting of affirmative action all but ensures affirmative action for white people. Democratic justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson appear to agree.
“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,” Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion.
Brown Jackson, whose qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court was constantly attacked by white conservatives despite her long and impressive list of accomplishments in her legal background, was even more direct in her written dissent.
“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,” she wrote. “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 problems.”
The Supreme Court has made a decision that will certainly reach far beyond the admissions offices of Harvard and UNC, and as long as America’s highest court continues to be run by a Fox News-loving majority of ideologues who are determined to make America white by default again, the precedent set by the court Thursday is sure to extend beyond institutions of higher learning. Republicans are already attacking DEI as if the acronym stood for Death to European-descended Infestations and not Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and, ultimately, the fight against affirmative action is a means to the same ends.
White supremacy was always the point.