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.