The United States Supreme Court ended affirmative action programs at universities on Thursday, in a historic ruling a year after the setback on abortion rights.
Its six conservative justices ruled, contrary to the opinion of the three progressives, that admission procedures on college campuses based on applicants’ skin color or ethnic origin are unconstitutional. “The student should be treated based on their experiences as an individual, not based on their race”wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.
Conservative magistrates believe that universities are free to consider an applicant’s personal experience, for example if he suffered racism, when weighing his application against others more academically qualified. But deciding primarily based on whether he is black or white is not allowed, it is itself racial discrimination, they say. “Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice,” Roberts added.
Several highly selective colleges introduced racial and ethnic criteria into their admissions procedures in the late 1960s to correct the inequalities derived from the segregationist past of the United States and increase the proportion of black, Hispanic, or American Indian students in their classrooms. This policy, known as “positive discrimination”, has always been widely criticized in conservative circles, which consider it opaque and racist.
The Supreme Court has ruled against quotas on several occasions since 1978, but has always authorized universities to take into account racial criteria, among others. Until now, he had considered the search for greater diversity on campus “legitimate,” even if it meant breaking the principle of equality among all Americans.