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SCOTUS Upends Consideration of Race in College Admissions


Mike Moen, Producer

Friday, June 30, 2023   

There’s been widespread reaction to yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to restrict affirmative action in college admissions. Wisconsin institutions, along with national civil rights voices, are still assessing the outcome.

In a 6-to-3 decision, the court’s conservative majority largely overturned decades of precedent which prompted colleges and universities to consider a prospective student’s race as part of goals to maintain diverse campuses.

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said the decision reeks of politics under a court which includes a handful of justices appointed by former President Donald Trump. 

“From our perspective, this decision is a gutting and a weakening of years of progress towards racial justice in this nation via the very sacred 14th Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause,” Morial contended.

Meanwhile, regional schools like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have issued statements saying they are discussing how the court’s actions will affect admissions programs. The university said it “remains committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.”

The conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty praised the decision, saying it mandates colorblind policies in higher education. 

The decision has led to speculation about future cases, spreading to diversity policies outside of education. Morial noted it is important to remember for now, the decision, while gut-wrenching to advocates, has its limitations.

“And while the decision narrows the use of race in higher education admissions, it does not outright ban it,” Morial stressed. “It does not affect corporate diversity programs at all. It does not affect minority business opportunity programs at all.”

The court’s decision comes as some corporations, such as Target and Anheuser-Busch, have faced backlash from conservatives for expressing support for underrepresented populations, namely the LGBTQ+ community, and diversity training programs have been targeted by activist groups trying to ban certain books and racial curriculum in schools.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation. 

This story first appeared in Public News Service, a member-supported news site to engage, educate and advocate for the public interest.