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Our thoughts on affirmative action’s end

We warned you back in November that it might happen, and just a couple weeks ago it did – SCOTUS struck down the practice of affirmative action. In a 6-3 decision split by judicial partisanship, the Court ended affirmative action at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in addition to public and private universities across the country.

While the debates on this issue have been contentious, we still maintain the positions we set forth in our last blog about the topic. In November, we mentioned how “reverse racism” is a myth, and legacy applicants are far more likely to be admitted than anyone else – including people who may have benefitted from affirmative action. On top of that, we discussed how affirmative action was necessary to correct decades of discrimination and how diversity on college campuses is a very good thing.

Now looking into the decision and the dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s words went viral and for good reason. She shared insights that resonate with us and many others.

Her analysis was spot on when she said, “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences, the Court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems.”

Trying to look on the bright side, the decision spurred some groups to action. A Boston-based nonprofit called Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a civil rights complaint after the SCOTUS decision, arguing against legacy admissions. They contend that Harvard’s admission system violates the Civil Rights Act by allowing legacy admissions without affirmative action to counteract it.

Makes sense, right? If admissions decisions can’t include race-based considerations but can take into account whether your family also went to the institution, is that process really based on merit?

Of course, it’s not based on merit. It’s based on who has generational wealth. Moreover, 70% of Harvard’s legacy applicants are white.

It’s truly indefensible and astounding for universities to allow legacy admissions and not allow affirmative action policies. We’ll keep a close eye on how the civil rights complaint against legacy admissions is addressed. In the meantime, you’ll catch us continuing to advocate for equity not only in educational opportunity, but across the board.