“This is not an ordinary court,” U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday after the Supreme Court overturned affirmative action on university admissions. In the ruling, six conservative justices concurred Affirmative action In Unfair Discrimination Based on Skin Color, three progressive justices pointed to the inequality of opportunity in the United States among residents of different appearances.
“There is still discrimination in America,” Biden said three times in response to the ruling. “Our nation’s colleges and universities must be engines of increased opportunity through social mobility. But today that is often not the case.”
Affirmative action, Biden underscored, is discrimination in favor of students from underrepresented groups in higher education who, like all other students, have met other conditions for admission, such as high grades or good test scores. Those groups certainly do not include Asian Americans. They are overrepresented in universities and studies show they are less interested in affirmative action than black or Hispanic students.
‘The Shapeless Idea of Injustice’
In a country with a long, painful history of institutional racism and a long, painful history of its rejection, this ruling is a landmark, precedent for the constitutionality of the ability to consider race in admissions.
The last time the US Supreme Court ruled in 2016, a majority still believed affirmative action was legal. But that was before President Donald Trump named three conservative justices to the court in a row. So the former president said the latest statement was “a great day for the country”.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the ruling, upheld an earlier ruling in which a white student at the University of California successfully challenged his rejection. At the time, four justices advocated affirmative action as a remedy against discrimination in society. But a five-judge majority found that there was insufficient reason to allow discrimination based on appearance.
One of them, he wrote, suggested “a shapeless idea of injustice that can go indefinitely into the past.” He said racial ranking cannot be justified as “punishing a few who are not held accountable for the injustices believed to be suffered by those who benefit from inclusion programs” — which implies affirmative action.
“Many universities have long mistakenly concluded that the pillar of an individual’s identity is not the obstacles they have overcome, the skills they have acquired, or the lessons they have learned, but the color of their skin,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.
As a result, the basic distinction between conservative and progressive views on inequality in society has been given an ambiguous formulation in the court’s decision. Conservative majorities don’t particularly want to know about structural discrimination against black Americans—affirmative action is already prohibited in states that are relatively underrepresented in higher education and, in part because of it, are far behind in income. Their lives throughout the year. He sees only individual discrimination to ‘overcome barriers’, and universities are still allowed by the courts to take those qualities into account.
At the other end of the spectrum, progressive politicians and lobby groups point to an even more substantial disadvantage for African Americans in society. Dismissing the ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “This Court, in a stubbornly segregated society, makes the overriding rule of color blindness a constitutional principle where race has always played a central role.”
In a response, Barack and his wife Michelle Obama expressed regret at the ruling. Affirmative action, the former president wrote, “has made generations of students, including Michelle’s and mine, feel included. Michelle Obama wrote: “We often accept that money, power, and privilege are fully justifiable affirmative action, while children like me are far from the level of a game. They are expected to compete on the field.
President Biden called on universities to be diligent in their pursuit of diversity in their student populations. “What I am proposing is a new standard in which the governing board takes into account the problems that the student overcomes before reporting to a pool of applicants with sufficient qualifications.” Biden came very close to the letter of the court’s ruling, but far from it in spirit.
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