Biden proposes 'new standard' after Supreme Court overturns affirmative action

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to overturn affirmative action in college admissions on Thursday.Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
1 of 4 | The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to overturn affirmative action in college admissions on Thursday.Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

June 29 (UPI) -- Reacting to Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning affirmative action in university admissions, President Joe Biden said it was one with which he strongly disagreed, adding, "Discrimination still exists in America."

The court overturned the affirmative action policy in a 6-3 vote on Thursday, ruling it unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.


"I strongly disagree with the decision," Biden said during a livestream address from the White House. "We cannot let this decision be the last word. Discrimination still exists in America. Today's decision does not change that. "

Biden said he's directing the Department of Education to examine what practices uphold diversity and what practices hold it back. He urged schools that value diversity to not let the Supreme Court decision dissuade them from diversity practices.


Biden also proposed a new standard under which universities consider the financial means of a student or their family, where a student grew up and went to high school and the personal experiences of hardship or discrimination, including racial discrimination when making admissions decisions.

"We need a higher education system that works for everyone," Biden said. "We can and must do better, and we will."

Biden said there's a misunderstanding on how consideration of race has worked in higher education admissions. There's a misperception, he said, that unqualified students are admitted over qualified students through consideration of race.

First, he said, all students being considered must meet education standards to qualify. Then and only then, he said, can race be considered as one of many factors, not the determining factor.

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday ruled against affirmative came in two cases that decided admissions systems used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional.

At issue was use of race in admissions.

"The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause," the majority Supreme Court opinion said. "Both programs 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. We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today."


Until Thursday's ruling, the Supreme Court had for decades upheld race-conscious university admissions policies since they were allowed in the Grutter vs. Bollinger U.S. Supreme Court 2003 decision.

Both cases were brought by Students For Fair Admissions.

SFFA argued that Harvard "automatically awards racial preferences to African Americans and Hispanics" while penalizing Whites and Asian Americans.

Harvard had argued that Supreme Court precedent established for 40 years had "established and repeatedly affirmed that race can be one of many factors considered in college admissions."

Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor authored dissents to the majority ruling.

"Our country has never been colorblind. Given the lengthy history of state-sponsored race-based preferences in America, to say that anyone is now victimized if a college considers whether that legacy of discrimination has unequally advantaged its applicants fails to acknowledge the well-documented 'intergenerational transmission of inequality' that still plagues our citizenry," Jackson said.

Sotomayor wrote that the opinion would "serve only to highlight the Court's own impotence in the face of an America whose cries for equality resound."

"As has been the case before in the history of American democracy, 'the arc of the moral universe' will bend toward racial justice despite the Court's efforts today to impede its progress," She added. "The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment enshrines a guarantee of racial equality. The Court long ago concluded that this guarantee can be enforced through race-conscious means in a society that is not, and has never been, colorblind."


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