Pennsylvania Democrats reacted swiftly — and angrily– to Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s race-based admissions systems. The court found they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. That led one Delaware Valley Democrat to call the decision “21st-century segregation.”
Writing for the six-member majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted race was the determinative factor for a “significant percentage” of Black and Hispanic applicants accepted by Harvard, with a similar admissions process used at UNC.
Roberts’ famous adage is, “The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” and the majority of the court embraced that view. Many Democrats disagree, however, arguing the only way to treat people fairly is to give preferential treatment to some.
“The Court’s misguided decision reminds us how far we still have to go to ensure that all Americans are treated equally,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Shortly after the decision was released, Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus members held a press conference to express their ire at the court and their continued support for the race-based policy.
Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware), a member of the caucus, said, “Today’s ruling ending the use of affirmative action in higher education admissions hurts all students but is especially detrimental to Black and Brown students who are already underrepresented on many college campuses. This is incredibly disappointing at a time when we need to be doing more to foster diversity and inclusion, not less. In Pennsylvania, we’ll continue to fight for equitable educational opportunities for every student.”
State Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) linked the court’s rejection of racial preferences to America’s refusal to pay reparations for slavery.
“Today, the Supreme Court put our nation in reverse by ending affirmative action in college admissions,” Haywood said. “For a nation that has repeatedly rejected comprehensive reparations for Black Americans, affirmative action has been a narrow remedy to the oppression of 200 years of enslavement, 100 years of Jim Crow terror and segregation, and continued systemic racial discrimination.
“The court’s decision makes way for new 21st-century segregation. Now college admission officers and recruiters are told to put back on the same blinders that prevented them from seeing black talent for centuries,” Haywood added.
And Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) added, “Damn the U.S. Supreme Court and its decision! We will not give up!”
For Republicans, the Democrats’ outspoken advocacy for racial preferences could be a political winner. Polls show Americans strongly oppose the policy. For example, a new YouGov poll found nearly two-thirds of adults believe colleges and universities should not consider race at all in admissions decisions. And a recent Pew Research Center poll found 50 percent of Americans opposed race-based admissions, while just 33 percent approved.
Not surprisingly, Republicans running for president endorsed the Supreme Court ruling.
“We must instead restore equality of opportunity starting with equal access to educational opportunity in K-12 schools, via school choice and other means,” said entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. “We must restore colorblind meritocracy in America once and for all. This lifts up all Americans regardless of their skin color.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another presidential candidate, tweeted, “College admissions should be based on merit, and applicants should not be judged on their race or ethnicity. The Supreme Court has correctly upheld the Constitution and ended discrimination by colleges and universities.”
And former President Donald Trump, who is leading the field of Republican candidates in the polls, said on Truth Social, “People with extraordinary ability and everything else necessary for success, including future greatness for our country, are finally being rewarded. This is the ruling everyone was waiting and hoping for, and the result was amazing. It will also keep us competitive with the rest of the world. Our greatest minds must be cherished, and that’s what this wonderful day has brought. We’re going back to all merit-based—and that’s the way it should be!”
All three candidates will participate in the Moms For Liberty national summit in Philadelphia this weekend.
Conversely, President Joe Biden said, via Twitter: “We cannot let today’s Supreme Court decision be a permanent setback for the country. We need to remember that the promise of America is big enough for everyone to succeed. That’s the work of my Administration, and I will always fight for it.”