The Center for Children’s Law and Policy condemns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that race-conscious admissions programs at institutions of higher education violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. In issuing its opinion, the highest institution of one the three branches of our democratic government shone a spotlight on the pervasiveness of structural racism and white supremacy. The fact that the Court felt it could take such a step – let alone justify it under the guise of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection – left no question about the legacy of slavery, racism, and an eagerness to ignore our country’s history. If you had any question about that (which we do not), you can find it on full display on pages 1-139 of the Court’s majority and concurring opinions.
We choose to focus on the pages that follow, which capture Justice Sotomayor and Justice Jackson’s dissenting opinions. In them, the Justices not only articulate the absurdity of the Court’s decision in light of our country’s history, but they put that history on full display in the records of our nation’s highest court. As Justice Sotomayor correctly noted, the Court’s majority issued its decision “based on their policy preferences about what race in America should be like, but is not, and their preferences for a veneer of colorblindness in a society where race has always mattered and continues to matter in fact and in law.”
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision represents a significant setback for the pursuit of equity in this country. While that is true, we also agree with Justice Jackson that “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.” The Supreme Court is not the only vehicle by which to achieve racial equity in this country, and we have seen the limitations of its use to do so. We applaud the efforts announced by colleges and universities around the country to continue to expand access and promote opportunities students of color notwithstanding the Court’s decision. And at the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, we will continue our fight for equity for youth using every opportunity we can find to do so.