Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action Policies in University Admissions

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The U.S. Supreme Court June 29 struck down affirmative action policies used in admissions by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina to ensure student diversity.

The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the use of this practice in admissions was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The court heard challenges to these policies separately because Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case as she recently finished serving a six-year term on the university’s board of trustees.

The justices voted 6-3 in the University of North Carolina case and 6-2 in the Harvard decision.

A June 29 statement by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities said the court’s action was “more than disappointing as it ignores the more-than-apparent effects of continued racism in our society.”

The group also said the court’s decision “undermines the work that higher education has voluntarily taken on for many decades to be a solution in a society that provides too few solutions for this social evil.”

A group of 56 Catholic colleges and universities had weighed on these cases urging the court to uphold affirmative action in admissions.

The college leaders, joining in an amicus brief filed by Georgetown University, stressed that the right to consider racial diversity in admissions is essential to their academic and religious missions and is “inextricably intertwined” with their religious foundations.