5 Crucial Things To Know About The End of Affirmative Action

Introduction(Affirmative Action)

In a significant 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court declared the use of race as a factor in college admissions unconstitutional, sparking debates and criticism from Democrats. This ruling is expected to reshape the demographics of top universities, addressing cases involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina. While it does not prohibit all mentions of race in college applications, it emphasizes the need for individual assessment based on personal accomplishments rather than race. The dissenting opinions highlight the potential drawbacks and the importance of considering affirmative action’s benefits for underrepresented communities. This article provides an overview of the ruling, its implications, and the ongoing discussions surrounding race-based admissions.

Affirmative Action

The Court’s Conservative Majority and Public Opinion

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority, comprising six justices, deemed race-based college admissions unconstitutional, citing the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition of discrimination based on race. Interestingly, this ruling appears to align with public opinion, as surveys have consistently shown that most Americans oppose the consideration of race or ethnicity in college admissions. Even in liberal states like California, where the public has twice voted to prohibit affirmative action, the sentiment against race-based admissions is strong. However, it is worth noting that survey results can vary depending on how the question is framed.

 

Democrats’ Condemnation and Potential Political Challenges

The ruling presents a challenge for Democrats, who have historically rallied Americans in support of affirmative action. While the public’s opposition to race-based admissions might make it difficult to garner broad support, Democrats swiftly condemned the ruling. President Biden stated that the decision should not be the final word, signalling their intent to challenge the ruling. However, the court’s conservative shift, coupled with public sentiment, could pose challenges in mobilising public support akin to the ongoing discussions around abortion rights since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Shifting University Demographics and Impact on Students

The court’s decision is expected to significantly alter the makeup of top universities and impact students aspiring to attend them. Colleges such as Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which consider race in admissions to diversify their student bodies, particularly by boosting underrepresented Black and Latino applicants, may face considerable changes. Critics argue that these preferences may come at the expense of students from racial or ethnic backgrounds already well-represented on campuses, notably Asian Americans.

Chief Justice Roberts’ Majority Opinion and Restrictions on Race

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, sided with critics of affirmative action, declaring it racially discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ruling does not prohibit all mentions of race in college applications; however, it highlights that race cannot be a determining factor in admissions, even when considering essays discussing how race has affected applicants’ lives. The only way to highlight an applicant’s race is to highlight their personal qualities or accomplishments. The dissenting opinions, led by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, express deep disagreement with the ruling and emphasize the importance of acknowledging and addressing racial disparities in a society where race continues to matter.

State Examples and Alternative Approaches

Several states have already banned race-based affirmative action, providing real-world examples of potential outcomes. Many schools in these states have witnessed a decline in Black and Latino student enrollment. However, the University of California system offers an alternative approach, adopting policies that have successfully increased the number of Black and Hispanic students without explicitly considering race. This experience suggests that schools can improve diversity through alternative measures if they are willing to do so.

Implications for Elite Universities and Broader Effects

While the ruling may have a limited direct impact on most college students, its consequences extend beyond individual admissions. Elite colleges, with their disproportionate influence on American society, face scrutiny regarding their admissions.

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