Berkeley universities

Positive action on the block

Following the announcement of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion seeking to strike down Roe v. Wade, that would upend fifty years of precedent, it seems that racially conscious affirmative action could be next in line.

“This is a court with little regard for precedent and a very strong belief that it knows what the Constitution really means – and that everything that happened before this court can be wrong and can be thrown out” , said Dr. Gary Orfield, professor. of Education, Law, Political Science, and Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project. “That’s the part that talks about how this court might approach affirmative action, voting rights, and other basic civil rights.”

The draft notice leaked last week on deer of the conservative supermajority court would take away the federal right to abortion, which was established in the 1973 case. The draft is not the final ruling, which will come next month. Still, many experts say the court is unlikely to change its position significantly, if at all. Now, affirmative action may be on the chopping block.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) are legal. The court has upheld similar programs before, most recently in 2016. Yet today’s conservative supermajority has radically changed the rules of the game.

“I have to say it doesn’t take a lot of insight to guess what’s going to happen with affirmative action because we have Justice Roberts, Thomas and Alito who have written dissenting opinions in affirmative action cases before. previous ones,” said Victor Goode, a partner. Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School. “There is no reason for Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett to take different views. They are ideologically cut from the same cloth as the other three.

Devon Westhill, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), a conservative think tank, endorsed and applauded the draft opinion on deer. The CEO states on his website that he promotes “color blindness, equal opportunity and non-discrimination in America”.

“As soon as this leak was confirmed as genuine by the Chief Justice, the first thing that came to mind was that they were going to abolish affirmative action,” Westhill said. “Because if they’re going to do this with deer, then they are stiff judges. This court is prepared to say what the law is and not be progressive. They are judges ready to right a number of wrongs of precedent, and I think deer is among them.

Westhill referred to the 2003 Supreme Court decision Grumble against Bollinger decision as one of those “prior wrongs” to be righted. The court ruled in that case in favor of holistic admissions programs, saying race could be considered one factor among others in achieving educational diversity.

grutter was ill-decided the day it was released,” Westhill said.

Still, Dr. Stella Flores, an associate professor of higher education and public policy at the University of Texas at Austin, expressed concern about such positions.Dr Stella FloresDr Stella Flores

“My fear is that if there is no respect for health care, there will definitely be no respect for educational opportunities,” she said.

Flores noted that restricting or banning race in admissions would likely disproportionately hurt black and Latino students. In California, where race-conscious affirmative action has been banned since 1996, these ripple effects have already manifested.

A study 2020 from the University of California, Berkeley found that enrollment of black and Latino students at public universities in California has declined since the ban. The report also found that as a result of the ban, students of color were less likely to earn college degrees, graduate degrees, or jobs in STEM fields.

“Latinos fare better in Texas than in California in terms of college completion rates,” Flores said. “Despite being a liberal state, California still presents some of the most critical barriers to education. We know what doesn’t work and we know what works. But this does not translate into electoral or legislative decisions, unfortunately. So if we want to fight for the future of the nation, we have to fight hard.

A decision on the Harvard and UNC cases, which will be heard jointly this fall, likely won’t be released until the spring or summer of 2023. Both cases were brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a group founded by Edward Blum, which led several lawsuits against racially sensitive admissions policies and suffrage laws.

“We really don’t know anything definitive,” said Dr. Julie Park, associate professor of education at the University of Maryland, College Park. “There is certainly a legitimate concern, but we won’t know that either until the matter is decided with this next round. It’s a guessing game.

Park studies racial equity in higher education, including Asian American students, affirmative action, and college admissions. She was an expert consultant in the Students for Fair Admissions vs. Harvard affair on the side of Harvard.

The case against Harvard argued that it discriminated against Asian American students, which Harvard denied. Harvard won in a federal trial court and the decision was upheld by a federal appeals court. Yet the Supreme Court still decided to hear this case alongside the UNC case.

“In terms of educational opportunities, the tragedy here is that the justification for diversity has been held up in decision after decision at the Supreme Court,” Flores added. “There is no reason for this to come back to court, just as there was no reason for deer to come back. But the precedent apparently doesn’t matter.

In the North Carolina affirmative action case, the plaintiffs argued that UNC discriminated against white and Asian applicants by giving preference to black, Latina, and Native American students. UNC responded that its admissions policies were legal and built educational diversity.

“I think it will be really disastrous if that happens,” Park added of the implications of removing race as a consideration in admissions.

Dr. Charles McKinney, associate professor of history and holder of a chair in African studies at Rhodes College, researches the civil rights movement. He noted that the probable end of deer and race-conscious affirmative action comes as no surprise given the direction in which naysayers have been heading for years.

“This is the latest step in a long-term frontal assault on civil rights and civil liberties, which I think we can at least trace back to the opposition in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954,” he said. “Deep in the minds of conservatives, I think there has always been the idea that the Brown decision represented federal overreach and a disruption of the status quo, which was explicit racial subordination.”

Orfield also stressed the importance of acknowledging this country’s civil rights history to make sense of the moment.

“The fault in our society has not been color blindness. It has been discrimination,” he said. “And that discrimination has not yet been cured. communicated to this court, whether or not it will listen or pay attention.

Rebecca Kelliher can be reached at [email protected]