BREAKING: Supreme Court rules that Affirmative Action in college admissions is unconstitutional

The court ruled 6-3 that affirmative action is unconstitutional, and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down affirmative action in colleges and universities. The court ruled 6-3 that affirmative action is unconstitutional, and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. Chief Justice Roberts penned the opinion.

The ruling came as part of two cases, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College. 

The court stated that Grutter vs Bollinger, which allowed the use of a person’s race as a factor in college admissions, "imposed one final limit on race-based admissions programs: At some point, the Court held, they must end."

"Twenty years have passed since Grutter, with no end to race-based college admissions in sight. But the Court has permitted race-based college admissions only within the confines of narrow restrictions: such admissions programs must comply with strict scrutiny, may never use race as a stereotype or negative, and must — at some point — end. Respondents’ admissions systems fail each of these criteria and must therefore be invalidated under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment," the court stated.

The court wrote that the schools "fail to operate their race-based admissions programs in a manner that is 'sufficiently measurable to permit judicial [review]' under the rubric of strict scrutiny."

"First, the interests that respondents view as compelling cannot be subjected to meaningful judicial review. Those interests include training future leaders, acquiring new knowledge based on diverse outlooks, promoting a robust marketplace of ideas, and preparing engaged and productive citizens. 

"While these are commendable goals, they are not sufficiently coherent for purposes of strict scrutiny. It is unclear how courts are supposed to measure any of these goals, or if they could, to know when they have been reached so that racial preferences can end."

Roberts stated that "Universities may define their missions as they see fit. The Constitution defines ours. Courts may not license separating students on the basis of race without an exceedingly persuasive justification that is measurable and concrete enough to permit judicial review." The court further found that race-based admissions at Harvard led to a greater than 11% decline in the number of Asian American students admitted. 

"Three aspects of today’s decision warrant comment: First, to satisfy strict scrutiny, universities must be able to estab- lish an actual link between racial discrimination and educational benefits. Second, those engaged in racial discrimi- nation do not deserve deference with respect to their reasons for discriminating. Third, attempts to remedy past governmental discrimination must be closely tailored to ad- dress that particular past governmental discrimination," Justice Thomas said.

The group asked the court to overturn a 2003 ruling, Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed ethnic and racial identities to play a part in the acceptance of students to colleges and universities. 

The cases were brought forth by Students for Fair Admissions, who allege that schools taking race into consideration on college applications violate equal protection under the law.

Attorney for the University of North Carolina, Ryan Park, argued during the hearing that diversity within the school leads students to "perform at a higher level make more efficient trading decisions, and the mechanism there is it reduces groupthink, and people have longer and more sustained disagreement, and that leads to a more efficient outcome."

"Well, I guess I don't put much stock in that because I've heard similar arguments in favor of segregation too," Justice Clarence Thomas said at the time.

The SFFA argued that the ruling in Grutter allowing racial considerations in university admissions was "egregiously wrong," that it has led to "significant negative consequences," and that the previous ruling is essentially outmoded, nearly 20 years later.

At the time of the ruling in Grutter, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that "25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further" a school's desire for a diverse student body.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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