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Chicago Urban League President and CEO Issues Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Anti-Affirmative Action Decision

Chicago Urban League President and CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the use of affirmative action in college admissions.

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a devastating, yet not surprising, opinion in the case of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. V. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, et. al, turning college admissions processes all over the country on its head.  But more than undermining access to higher education for Black and Brown students, the majority in the 6-3 decision turned a blind eye to 400 years of history and the inequitable way that K-12 education is funded and delivered.  

During a virtual meeting with other leaders of civil rights organizations, National Urban League President Marc Morial stated, “This decision reeks of politics. It’s a Trumpus decision by a Trumpus court. While the decision narrows the use of race in higher education admissions, it does not outright ban it. From our perspective, this decision is a gutting and a weakening of years of progress toward racial justice in this nation via a very sacred 14th Amendment and its equal protection clause. And we condemn the tribalization of the long racial history in this nation and this interpretation of the 14th Amendment because we believe it is incorrect. We think it is wrongly decided. We think it steps on years of precedent by a variety of courts over a series of years and seeks to gut this nation’s long march from its history of racial exclusion, discrimination and exploitation to a nation which is more racially just.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, in a searing dissent, wrote “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces “color blindness for all” by legal fiat.  But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.  And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past no present experiences, the Court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems.” (The full concurring dissent can be found here.)

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is right. No one benefits from this brand of ignorance.  Today, the misguided analysis of the 14th Amendment and relevant legal precedent has been rendered in direct contradiction of the fact that race has driven life-decisions in this country for more than 400 years.  It also ignores the disparities in a K-12 educational system where funding is determined by your zip code, and your zip code is determined by your socioeconomic status.  But the worst part is that the myth of a colorblind society essentially removes the prospect of a remedy. This is the ultimate tragedy of this decision. The one benefit of this decision is that the majority has once again underscored how important elections and voting rights are.