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The Supreme Court Bans Affirmative Action

The work of nonprofits focused on advancing education for people of color has become even more crucial.
Alicia Maule
July 3, 2023

The Supreme Court of the United States recently handed down a landmark ruling stating that colleges and universities can no longer consider race as a specific basis for granting admission. This decision, which upends the long-standing precedent of Affirmative Action in higher education, has wide-reaching implications, particularly for Black and Latino students.

“Our country has never been colorblind,” Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said in her dissenting opinion. 

“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. It is that inequality that admissions programs such as UNC’s help to address, to the benefit of us all. Because the majority’s judgment stunts that progress without any basis in law, history, logic, or justice, I dissent.”

“Our country has never been colorblind." —Justice Jackson

To understand the potential impact of this ruling, we need to look at past data. A 2013 Harvard study gives us a glimpse at what may lie ahead. The study found "sharp declines" in workplace participation for Asian women, Black women, and Latino men in states where Affirmative Action had been banned, namely California, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington.

In the aftermath of these bans, workforce participation dropped by 7% for Latino men, 4% for Black women, and a staggering 37% for Asian women. These declines were observed for several years post-ban, highlighting the enduring repercussions of such decisions. In addition to workforce participation, the study also observed a decrease in the representation of minorities and women in state and local government.

This data paints a distressing picture of what may come to pass following this latest Supreme Court decision. An unwelcome setback in the strides made towards equal opportunities in education and employment for all Americans, the ruling is not indicative of public sentiment on the matter. According to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 63% of respondents believe race should play a role in college admissions, contrary to the Court's ruling.

"The philanthropic dollar is crucial to support people who have less means and access to education," said Roman Ortega Jr., who served as the Associate Vice President of Strategy and Government Relations at Lewis University and is currently an adjunct faculty member. Ortega was recently promoted to Colonel in the United States Army Reserve, attributing the distinction to the "power of determination and the possibilities that education can unlock, even for those who start on an uneven playing field."

"Data shows that people just need $500 to make or break if they can afford college. The military and education have been my great levelers, paving my way to societal equality. They've not only uplifted me but have also laid a strong foundation for the prosperity of family generations to come."

Bans on Affirmative Action in university admissions have had significant impacts on minority student populations in the past. The University of California system experienced this firsthand when they eliminated Affirmative Action in 1995. Within three years, the number of Black and Latino students accepted by Berkeley and UCLA was nearly halved. Fast forwarding to 2022, Black and Latino students accounted for 32% of all University of California's admitted students — given the school's intentional recruitment focus — a substantial increase from the mere 15% they represented in 1998. This change demonstrates the potential positive impact of race-conscious admissions policies.

“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse gains made in the battle against health inequities.” —Alister Brown

At Givepact, we believe in the importance of diverse and inclusive educational opportunities. Given the latest ruling, the work of nonprofits focused on advancing education for people of color has become even more crucial. Through our platform, you can make a meaningful contribution towards creating an equitable future in education.

“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse gains made in the battle against health inequities,” said Alister Martin, chief executive officer of A Healthier Democracy, a Givepact partner.  

“At A Healthier Democracy we will continue to organize healthcare providers to help close racial equity gaps in spite of this ruling by channeling over $80 billion in unspent federal aid program funding into the pockets of low income patients and then helping make their voices heard through voter registration and GOTV efforts. We look forward to partners helping us in these efforts nationally.”

The crypto donations you make through Givepact not only amplify your giving power, but they also signal a commitment to a new wave of philanthropy focused on supporting the causes that matter the most.

In the face of this paradigm-shifting ruling, let's unite to support educational equity. 

Here is a list of Givepact Partners organizations that you can support right now to help create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable future in education.