Supreme Court ruling: Stop using race in college admissions

Supreme Court ruling: Stop using race in college admissions

Supreme Court ruling: Stop using race in college admissions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action in college admissions, forcing institutions of higher education to stop using a student's race to determine eligibility.

The court's conservative majority overturned admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the nation's oldest private and public colleges, respectively.

Harvard was sued by Asian-American students who said they are being unfairly penalized on admissions applications because of their race. A lawsuit was later brought against UNC, too. 

Chief Justice John Roberts said that for too long universities have “concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, the nation’s second black justice who had long called for an end to affirmative action, wrote separately that the decision “sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes.”

Thomas, who grew up in poverty in Jim Crow-era Georgia, went on to state he is "painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination," but he further stated he has "enduring hope" the United States will live up to principle of equality enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and in the U.S. Constitution. 

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.”

Both Thomas and Sotomayor took the unusual step of reading a summary of their opinions aloud in the courtroom.

In a separate dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — the court’s first Black female justice — called the decision “truly a tragedy for us all.”

The vote was 6-3 in the North Carolina case and 6-2 in the Harvard case. Jackson sat out the Harvard case because she had been a member of an advisory governing board there.

The Supreme Court had twice upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 20 years, including as recently as 2016.