ACLU Comment on President Biden’s Response to the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Affirmative Action

June 29, 2023 1:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden delivered strong remarks in response to the Supreme Court rulings in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC. In his speech, he reinforced his commitment to a multi-racial democracy, strongly cautioned against reading the opinion as sweeping, and reinforced that colleges should remain committed to diversity and increasing opportunity, and should continue to consider the adversity many students face. The American Civil Liberties Union applauds his words, as well as his announcement that he will be directing the Department of Education to recommend policies that expand opportunity for students of color.

In response to the President’s remarks, ReNika Moore, Director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, issued the following statement:

“President Biden’s caution against colleges abandoning their commitment to diversity is among the most critical points we must all reinforce today and in the weeks ahead. The Supreme Court’s decision does not change the imperative and ability of colleges and universities to increase educational opportunities for students of color. Higher education institutions need to double down on policies that ensure every student gets a fair shot. We commend the president for directing the Department of Education to ensure that happens and urge the administration to issue guidance to agencies on the need to read the decision accurately and narrowly.”

In today’s ruling, the court recognized that the values of diversity are “commendable goals” and that schools can consider applicants’ own discussion of how race has affected their lives. Importantly, in the opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, the court emphasized that “nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Moving forward, universities can and should also examine and improve their policies and practices to expand opportunity, including: broadening recruitment efforts to underserved communities, developing robust middle school and high school pipelines, increasing need-based supports, and improving campus climates to be welcoming environments for all.

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