Affirmative action has been under attack since its inception in the 1960s. On Monday, January 24, 2022, the Supreme Court stated that it would hear two cases opposing race-conscious admissions at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. However, experts say that Black and Latino students would be harmed at disproportionate rates if the Supreme court ruling favors reversing its policy on affirmative action programs in the U.S.
In 2020, Zachary Bleemer published the most comprehensive study on affirmative action, which highlighted racial disparities and discrimination in admissions processes in California public universities. The findings underscored that both Black and Latino students were harmed after California’s public universities made the choice to ban affirmative action in 1996. Subsequently, many students of color enrolled at less prominent institutions, which resulted in less students obtaining bachelor degrees, graduate degrees, or jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Bleemer told NBC News,
“When Black and Hispanic students lost access to California’s more selective universities, they lost access to this public investment.” Bleemer, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University with Opportunity Insights, a small research entity, also noted that this educational deprivation extended to the labor market. Bleemer says, “Black and Hispanic young workers ended up with relatively lower-paying jobs in the state over the next, at least, 15 years.”
NBC News also spoke to Cara McClellan, who serves as an assistant counsel at the NAACP’s Legal and Education Defense Fund. McClellan stated that it would be atypical for the court to rule against years of sustaining affirmative action.
“Any ruling that calls into question the legality of race-conscious admissions would be a huge reversal of more than 40 years of Supreme Court precedent. It would be quite a radical act for that to be the outcome, McClellan stated. McClellan also asserted that, “The end of holistic admissions would lead to a severe reduction in the number of Black and Latino Students at Harvard and, if the ruling is broader, at other universities.”
Since Donald Trump’s presidential election, the ugly veneer of the United States of America continues to be exposed. Before his presidency ended, Trump selected two of the most conservative republicans, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, to serve as justices to the Supreme Court. Although historically, the Supreme Court has rejected similar opposition to affirmative action, these two appointments could drastically and negatively change that.