The Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS), in its latest verdict, on Thursday, the 29th of June 2023, has struck down affirmative action in Colleges and Universities across Academic Institutions in the US. Affirmative action policies were introduced in the US in the mid-1960s following President Lyndon B. Johnson's Executive Order and were interpreted and implemented in various ways. The policies aimed at race-conscious admissions, ensuring diversity and equal representation to minority groups like Hispanic and Black American communities.
In the 6-3 ruling, the white-dominated conservative bench ruled that race cannot be a factor while considering college admissions, rolling back decades of efforts directed towards making college education accessible for minority groups across the country. The case against affirmative action in Educational Institutes was filed by a group called ‘Students for Fair Admissions’ led by Edward Blum, a conservative activist who is best known for his efforts to challenge affirmative action policies.
The cases were filed against Harvard University and the University of Northern Carolina on grounds of Discrimination against Asian Americans and undue preference given to Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans in the application/selection process in the name of affirmative action.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes at a time when the conservative-led majority in the recent past has taken many radical steps curtailing the rights and liberties of people across the US like the overturning of Roe v. Wade to make abortion illegal, and the intentions of its judges to revoke the legal status of same-sex marriage etc.
The judgment has attracted much criticism and has led to polarized reactions from prominent personalities and groups. President Joe Biden in a press conference at The White House condemning the apex court’s decision, conveyed he ‘strongly disagrees’ with it and said, “We cannot let this decision be the last word.”
Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have also criticized the SCOTUS’ decision with Mr. Obama calling affirmative action policies a ‘drive towards a more just society.’ Former First Lady Michelle Obama, too, penned her views on the Supreme Court's decision talking about how affirmative action policies provided a level field in college admissions to students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
On the other hand, conservative leaders are praising the court’s decision, describing it as a move towards equality. Among those hailing the decision, is former President Donald Trump who celebrated and welcomed the court's decision, calling it an ‘amazing’ decision and a ‘great day for America.’ Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, a top contender in the 2024 presidential elections, also came out in favor of the court's decision tweeting "college admissions should be based on merit and applicants should not be judged on their race or ethnicity."
Another conservative leader, entrepreneur, and outspoken critic of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, Vivek Ramaswamy, said Affirmative Action is "one of the worst failed experiments in American history."
It needs to be realized that the Supreme Court ruling will significantly change the admission procedure, adversely impacting minority groups across the US. The rolling back of affirmative action will limit the equality of opportunity to those students who face considerable disadvantages in comparison to their peers (primarily the minority groups). This will eventually lead to decreasing diversity and perpetuating deep-rooted racism and discrimination profoundly impacting American society.
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