The Supreme Court says colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration as a specific basis for granting admission, a landmark decision overturning long-standing precedent that has benefited Black and Latino students in higher education.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the conservative majority, saying the Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions programs violated the Equal Protection Clause because they failed to offer “measurable” objectives to justify the use of race.
He said the programs involve racial stereotyping and had no specific endpoint.
The opinion claims the court was not expressly overturning prior cases authorizing race-based affirmative action, and suggested that how race has affected an applicant’s life can still be part of how their application is considered.
Here's what else you should know:
- Who dissented: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, issued a fiery dissent, saying the opinion “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.” In a demonstration of the controversial nature of the case, justices read their dissents from the bench for the first time since 2019.
- Exemptions to the decision: The ruling says that US military service academies can continue to take race into consideration as a factor in admissions. During oral arguments, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar stressed the unique interests of the military and argued that race-based admissions programs further the nation’s compelling interest of diversity.
- Reactions: GOP officials celebrated the decision as Democrats blasted the court. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the justices “just ruled that no American should be denied educational opportunities because of race.” And Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement, “This is a great day for all Americans.” Former President Donald Trump called Thursday a “great day for America.” Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the ruling “a giant roadblock in our country’s march toward racial justice.”
- Implications: CNN Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates said the decision will lead to sweeping changes to education in the US. And Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said the decision will still not end the legal fight over college admissions.