Posted on June 29, 2023

Black Leaders Blast Supreme Court for Overturning Affirmative Action

Cheyanne M. Daniels, The Hill, June 29, 2023

Black and Latino leaders across the nation Thursday issued scathing statements against the Supreme Court after it ruled to overturn affirmative action.

Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), the first Black woman elected to the House from Pennsylvania, expressed that she was personally affronted by the court’s decision, which came down Thursday morning.

“As a Black woman who had the audacity to attend college, I am disgusted that our country just enshrined racial inequity in higher education and economic immobility into law,” Lee said in a statement. “Make no mistake — this decision by this corrupt and illegitimate Supreme Court was *designed* to keep a generation of brilliant Black young people out of higher education and positions of power.


Others, like the NAACP, said the decision removes decades of progress toward racial equity.

“Today the Supreme Court has bowed to the personally held beliefs of an extremist minority,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

“Let me be clear – affirmative action exists because we cannot rely on colleges, universities, and employers to enact admissions and hiring practices that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. Race plays an undeniable role in shaping the identities of and quality of life for Black Americans. In a society still scarred by the wounds of racial disparities, the Supreme Court has displayed a willful ignorance of our reality,” Johnson said.


In Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the conservative-leaning SFFA argued that Asian Americans have been disadvantaged in the application process due to receiving lower “personal ratings” and are admitted at a lower rate than white applicants despite having higher test scores on average.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said in a statement that affirmative action — which was held up in the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke — gave students “a better chance at equal admissions to our nation’s top schools, and our country has been made better for it.”

But the conservative-leaning Supreme Court ruled in favor of SFFA Thursday, stating that race-conscience admissions systems “fail to comply with the Equal Protection Clause’s twin commands that race may never be used as a ‘negative’ and that it may not operate as a stereotype.” It also said that “it is unclear how a court is supposed to determine” if or how students receive the educational benefits of diversity.


“Unfortunately, we have seen backlash to progress many times throughout our nation’s history,” the CBC said in response to the ruling.

“During Reconstruction, we had a mere 12 years of Black achievement in policy, politics, the arts and sciences, and education that were followed by 70 years of state-sanctioned Jim Crow. We didn’t stop fighting for equality then and we won’t stop now because too much is at stake to allow extremists to turn back the clock on progress.”


Former President Obama highlighted that affirmative action policies “allowed generations of students like Michelle [Obama] and me to prove we belonged.”


Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said the decision, made by a “far-right” Supreme Court, will only exacerbate systemic oppression Black and brown students have faced for decades.

“This damning decision to overturn decades of legal precedent and ban race-conscious admissions is just the latest in the white supremacist assault on equity in education,” Pressley said in a statement.