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Supreme Court Rules ‘Affirmative Action’ in College Admissions Violate the 14th Amendment

Published: June 29, 2023
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, D.C. on July 1, 2021. The High Court overturned a Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling that said Arizona’s election integrity laws were racially discriminatory.
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, D.C. on July 1, 2021. (Image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday, June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court decided 6-3 to rule unconstitutional university admissions that judge applicants by their race.

The “affirmative action” regime, in place for decades, was billed as a way of providing equal opportunity for racial minorities to attend America’s top colleges, but came under increasing criticism by those who allege it discriminated against white and Asian applicants.

In its Opinion, the Supreme Court justices found that the admissions policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina had discriminated against white and Asian individuals trying to apply for those schools, and was a violation of their rights under the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal rights for all citizens of the United States.

According to the plaintiffs in an affirmative action case against Harvard, citing an academic index based on SAT and GPA scores, if the Ivy League school admitted students only from the top 10 percent of applicants judging them on their academic accomplishments, the racial makeup of admissions would change significantly.

While the proportion of whites admitted to Harvard would stay around 35 percent of the total, the proportion of Asians would more than double from 24.9 percent to 51.7 percent. Meanwhile, Latino and black admissions would fall from the current share of over 30 percent to less than 4 percent of the total.

Currently, many schools justify their admissions policies by saying that personal accomplishments other than academic scores — but unrelated to race — are taken into account.

This has been hotly disputed by Asian-American advocacy groups and others, who say that such metrics simply provide colleges a convenient but deeply racist way of disqualifying Asian applicants.