LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in (Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina) upends a 45-year-precedent that clearly affirmed the use of race as one of several considerations in admissions.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) has long supported race-conscious policies, including affirmative action, as necessary to address a legacy of racial discrimination and exclusion in higher education. In 2020, MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz served as co-chair of Proposition 16, a California ballot initiative that sought to repeal a 1996 measure that banned the use of race- and gender-based affirmative action in the state’s public sector.
Please attribute the following statement on today’s ruling to MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz:
“Unfortunately, as expected, a backward- thinking conservative Supreme Court majority today reversed nearly half a century of precedent by striking down admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina because of their limited consideration of race. By holding the two universities’ commitments to diversity too incoherent to support their affirmative action programs’ constitutionality, the majority effectively overturned the 45-year-old precedent in Regents of University of California v. Bakke.
“Today’s decision demands a renewed and invigorated commitment by all education policymakers to greater equity in admissions. This means concentrated efforts to root out systemic and ongoing inequities in the K-12 pipeline, as well as deep research to identify and modify or eliminate all admissions criteria with a demonstrated and unjustified bias and discriminatory effect on students of color, including Latinos, the nation’s largest minority community in the student population.
“Of course, the majority expressly noted that consideration of how race and racial discrimination have affected an individual applicant may still be considered. This is a clear indication that the decision is most emphatically not an invitation or mandate of race ignorance. Policymakers and admissions officers alike must continue to consider racial discrimination and racial disparity in making future decisions.
“Our nation will grapple with the terrible harms to our future wrought by today’s decision for weeks, months, and years to come. At MALDEF, we will work to ensure that solutions adequately recognize and serve the longstanding and growing Latino community.”