U.S. Supreme Court Decision Undermines Universities’ Ability to Pursue Diversity, Equity

Published Jun 29, 2023

Washington (June 29, 2023)—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a sweeping ruling ending affirmative action at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. This decision doesn’t just end programs aimed at increasing diversity and equity at academic institutions, it imperils the quest for racial justice across the country, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of UCS.

“Today’s decision ending affirmative action programs represents a willful act of neglect—of legal precedent, of the Constitution, and of the reality of racial inequity in this country. Inequitable access to education has been one of the most pervasive forms of racial discrimination in our history, and today the Supreme Court took a huge step backward, one that will undermine efforts to create more diverse and inclusive institutions. This doesn’t just affect college campuses. Discrimination in access to education will mean the loss of critical perspectives in government, medicine, law, and scientific and technical professions. The Justices in the majority today are solidifying the long-standing racial barriers in these fields, masking the inequitable impact by using the language of equal protection to justify their decision.

“In her dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson notes that ‘deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life… race still matters to the lived experiences of all Americans in innumerable ways, and today’s ruling makes things worse, not better.’ By overturning precedent and dismantling affirmative action programs, the Supreme Court has put at risk decades of efforts to desegregate education and deliver equal opportunity to all.”