(Al Jazeera Media Network) The United States Supreme Court has ruled that colleges must stop considering race as a factor in their admission policies, dealing a setback to so-called “affirmative action” efforts aimed at boosting the enrolment of Black and Latino students at top universities.
The top court’s decision on Thursday came in response to lawsuits that challenged the policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) by claiming race-conscious student admissions programs discriminate against white and Asian-American applicants.
President Joe Biden decried the court’s decision on Thursday, calling on universities to continue to advance diversity despite the ruling.
“I’ve always believed that the promise of America is big enough for everyone to succeed, and that every generation of Americans – we have benefited by opening the doors of opportunity just a little bit wider to include those who’ve been left behind,” Biden told reporters.
He stressed that the top court bucked precedents – previous rulings that establish legal norms – in its decision on Thursday. “We cannot let this decision be the last word on it,” Biden said.
Asked whether the Supreme Court is “rogue,” Biden said it is not a “normal” court.
The top court ultimately found affirmative action to be in violation of U.S. Constitution provisions that establish equal protection under the law.
“College admissions are zero-sum. A benefit provided to some applicants but not to others necessarily advantages the former group at the expense of the latter,” the Supreme Court said in its decision, embracing the argument that affirmative action benefitting some minority students disadvantages others.
The vote was 6-3 in the UNC case and 6-2 in the Harvard case, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recusing herself from the latter because she had been a member of an advisory governing board at the university.