UPDATED: Supreme Court rules against affirmative action in university admissions, BGSU responds

Falcon Media staff

The United States Supreme Court Thursday ruled as unconstitutional race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, effectively make it illegal to employ affirmative action policies long used to raise the number of Black, Hispanic and other underrepresented minority students on American campuses.

The Reuters news service called the decision “a blockbuster decision that will force many colleges and universities to overhaul their admissions policies” stating that universities using “admissions programs that consider an applicant’s race in ways like Harvard and UNC did violate the U.S. Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the law.”

Writing the majority opinion, Chief John Robert said a student “must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual not on the basis of race. Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”

Roberts added the programs at Harvard and UNC “lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Court’s newest justice and the first Black woman to serve on the court, wrote in her dissent: “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the (court’s) majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic jurist on the court, wrote that the decision “subverts” the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and further entrenches racial inequality in education, adding “today, this Court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.”

Bowling Green State University spokesperson  Colleen Rerucha said the university’s application process focuses on academics.

“Bowling Green State University is reviewing the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding admissions policies for colleges and universities nationwide,” Rerucha said in a statement. “While we gather optional information such as work experience, race and extracurricular activities, our admissions process is based on an applicant’s academic credentials.”

University president Rodney K. Rogers sent an email to the university community on June 30 confirming Rerucha’s statement.

“… based on our current understanding, this decision does not have an impact on the undergraduate admissions practices at Bowling Green State University, which are based on an applicant’s academic credentials,” Rogers email stated. “Above all, I want to reaffirm our commitment to our community. While the recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court addresses admissions decisions at colleges and universities, we will continue to recruit and support students, faculty and staff from every background, including race and social identities, religious beliefs and political perspectives.”

Some scholars indicate the decision will reach well beyond admissions.

NPR spoke with with Mitchell Chang, who studies diversity in education at UCLA. Chang told NPR that after state-wide bans on race-conscious admissions were implemented Michigan, California, and Washington, what followed were modifications to what was once more targeted as “race-conscious scholarships, race-conscious programming, race-conscious recruitment.”

Therefore, Chang said, the Supreme Court’s ruling “may have a much broader sweep, in fact, than just with admissions.”

Political response largely fell along party lines.

President Biden said the ruling was evidence that today’s Supreme Court “is not a normal court.” He also said “I know today’s decision is a severe disappointment to so many people, including me, but we cannot let the decision be a permanent setback for our country.”

Meanwhile, former president and current Republican frontrunner for the party’s 2024 nomination Donald Trump responded to the ruling by calling it “a great day for America.”

Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance had not yet reacted publicly at the time of this story’s release. However, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted: “The Supreme Court rightly decided race conscience decisions, pitting one group against another, are wrong. It was a long overdue decision” while Democratic Sen. Corey Booker tweeted: “The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action is a devastating blow to our education system across the country.”