SC’s decision on Affirmative Action exempts military academies and the carve out is a deeply disturbing contrast: Gregory Meeks

Statement from Member of Congress Gregory Meeks on Supreme Court’s decision on Affirmative Action: 

Dear Friends, 

I am concerned about the Supreme Court’s decision on Affirmative Action and would like to share some thoughts with you: 

The U.S. Supreme Court decided today to dismantle years of progress toward a level playing field in higher education.  In the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University decision, the court has willfully ignored the fact that the vestiges of racial discrimination and inequality in this country persist. In a breathtaking acknowledgement of this willfulness and hypocrisy the court at the same time determined that military academies are exempted. The carve out is a deeply disturbing contrast that harkens back to America’s darkest moments. Diversity in military academies is as imperative to our nation’s interests as it is throughout higher education, to decide otherwise is deeply sinister and undermines our greatest domestic and national security interests. The carve out is a direct admission that it is precisely our diversity that makes the United States exceptional. 

Writing in 1903 acclaimed African American intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois declared “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”  With today’s ruling to end consideration of race in college admissions, the Supreme Court of the United States now appears intent on perpetuating the color line as a rooted problem of the twenty-first century as well. 

The court’s ruling further legitimized what countless of scholars and university presidents argued was a disingenuous attempt at advocating for equity in college admissions, particularly at elite colleges and universities where acceptance rates remain in the single digits, upwards of 90% of students admitted graduate within four years, and athletes, children of donors and alums will continue retain their favored status. Over 2,300 entities – from major corporations and military officials to civil rights leaders – filed sixty amicus briefs with the court underscoring the need to uphold affirmative action.    

If the justices who ruled in favor of this decision and states with conservative legislatures really want to enact this ruling equitably then I invite them to demand that all college coaches craft their rosters without consulting game film and any in-person evaluations or interactions with their recruits. Since admissions offices are now being asked to evaluate students with just their attributes on paper, then this should suffice for their colleagues in the athletic departments of the SEC, ACC and Big Ten as well. 

Fact of the matter is that with the exception of Historically Black Colleges and universities and more recently institutions with majority Hispanic populations Black and Latino students are underrepresented on America’s college campuses with their populations rarely eclipsing double-digit percentages when international students are not factored into the equation. Were the court really invested in broadening access to higher education it would be upholding student debt forgiveness programs, bolstering efforts to keep costs as low as possible at this nation’s public institutions, increase penalties for companies conducting predatory student loan practices and ruling in favor of efforts to expand acceptance rates at elite institutions. Until it shows any interest in these or other equalizing measures then the SCOTUS is shamefully not doing more than upholding this nation’s beleaguered color line and diminishing our global standing and competitiveness. 

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