Supreme Court goes against precedent, guts affirmative action

Source: The Week: Most Recent Home Page Posts

Article note: Meh. "Elite" college admission is toxic gamification taken to the extreme anyway. It's difficult - maybe impossible - to distinguish exceptional intrinsically driven students from the effects of parents' time, money, knowledge of the appropriate prestige games, and personal connections to create opportunities. Working with students for a while you can often get an good guess at who is "Beaten and coached to shallow, sneaky, on-paper perfection," who is in college for more haphazard forms of status min-maxing, and who actually wants to be studying what they're studying for intrinsic reasons, but that's approximate and biased at best, there is considerable overlap between the groups who excel for different reasons, and no sane, humane, or cost effective admissions process could come close to making those distinctions. The tools used to exclude Jews in decades past are being used to exclude Asians in the present, and the benefits to underrepresented groups were always largely a smokescreen for policies favoring legacies anyway. Holistic admissions, taken to the satirical extreme, just means students demonstrate their means and pedigree by the time and money sunk into expensive extracurriculars and tutoring, and write a _very moving_ essay about how school X is important to them because ...everyone in their family has gone for three generations and their cumulative donations are in the tens of millions.

The Supreme Court has ruled against the consideration of race in the college admissions process, deciding that affirmative action violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The decision handles two separate cases brought against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina and overturns decades of precedent, NPR reported. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, "Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points." The decision keeps race as a factor in admissions to military academies.

The high court first ruled on race-based college admissions in 1978 in the case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke where it determined that "race or ethnic background may be deemed a 'plus' in a particular applicant's file." The precedent held up until now. The dissenting opinion, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, criticized the ruling. "The result of today's decision is that a person's skin color may play a role in assessing individualized suspicion," she wrote, "but it cannot play a role in assessing that person's individualized contributions to a diverse learning environment."  She added, "That indefensible reading of the Constitution is not grounded in law and subverts the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection."

"For many, this decision feels deeply personal," remarked Harvard University President-Elect Claudine Gay in a video response. "But at Harvard, it has also strengthened our resolve to continue opening doors." The university also released a statement agreeing to comply but reaffirming the "fundamental principle that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences." 

"While we don't have all the answers about what's next, we do know that we will move forward together," Gay concluded.

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