Thursday, February 22, 2024

Mint Explainer: US Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action

The Supreme Court of the United States has struck down race-based affirmative action in education in a landmark decision. By a 6-3 margin, the court found that using race-based criteria in granting admissions to students was unconstitutional. Mint breaks down the ruling.

  • Affirmative action, aka positive discrimination, refers to a set of policies that grants increased opportunities to historically disadvantaged groups. In the context of American education, minority groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics benefited from it as universities looked to expand diversity on campuses.
  • Liberals in America have argued that these policies help increase opportunities for minorities who have historically been denied access to further education and social mobility. However, certain groups felt discriminated against. Some Asian American rights groups argued that the use of race as a factor in admissions has led to discrimination against them, given they are a high-performing, high-income minority. Conservative activists also argued that the use of race in admissions was discriminatory.
  • The battle over affirmative action has spanned decades, dating back to 2003, when the US Supreme Court ruled that race could be used as a consideration during the admissions process. But numerous states like California and Florida have since banned affirmative action in university admissions.
  • This latest ruling comes after cases were filed against affirmative action programmes at two universities – the University of North Carolina and Harvard. The Supreme Court, which is now dominated by conservative justices, ruled that race-based affirmative action policies were unconstitutional.
  • Conservative activists celebrated the ruling, which also drew positive responses from former US President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy. But liberal politicians including US President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama disagreed with the ruling, saying it would deny opportunities to historically oppressed minorities.

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Updated: 30 Jun 2023, 03:29 PM IST

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