Jim Morris Consulting’s Reaction to the Supreme Court’s
Overturning of Affirmative Action
(Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College)
Jim Morris Consulting stands in emphatic opposition to the historic decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Affirmative Action as per their ruling on June 29, 2023. This decades-long precedent allowed colleges and universities — public and private — to consider race as one factor in deciding which of the qualified applicants are to be admitted in order to create more diverse student bodies.
We urge everyone to research and understand the spate of recent decisions made by the Court that call into serious question its legitimacy as the U.S.’ third branch of government whose role is to decide on the constitutionality of federal laws when real disputes arise.
By overturning Affirmative Action and ruling in favor of policies that make discrimination of LGBTQ+ Americans legal, this court is now ruling on cases that are hypothetical vs. “controversial” and should have never been accepted by the Court had it followed its Constitutional mandate. This is not a political issue, it’s a procedural one that threatens to further divide us. Let’s complain intelligently to expose the court’s disintegration as a legitimate judicial body and note its emergence as a partisan, financially corrupt policymaker influenced by special interests and unwilling to hold its members or itself to account for corrupt behavior.
The Affirmative Action ruling suggested so-called “race-conscious” admission programs at colleges and universities across the country disadvantage white and Asian students. Claiming “a benefit provided to some applicants but not to others necessarily advantages the former group at the expense of the latter.” We believe this logic, cloaked in the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, fails to take into account the legacy of discrimination that has afflicted people of color and indigenous people in North America since before the very founding of the Nation.
Our history shows that the U.S. has never been a “color blind” society. This decision sends a message that all students are equally disadvantaged through consideration of race in college admissions and fails to take into account the intergenerational impact of inequality that is the daily burden of marginalized racial groups in our society.
Equally disturbing is Chief Justice Roberts suggestion that racial minorities are not entitled to admissions concessions based on their race, but they may include in their college applications stories of how their disadvantage has negatively affected their academic standing: “…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.”
This approach replicates a long-standing and inequitable pattern that puts the onus of responsibility on students from underrepresented groups to advocate for equity. As a counterpoint, when or where have students of the majority group ever had to advocate for their rights or entitlement to receive the advantage of their whiteness? One of the precepts of our work with students and clients on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is to expose them to the myriad disproportionate ways members of underrepresented groups have to justify, explain and defend their existence, much less access to equal protection. This opinion is regressive to that dynamic and solidifies the status quo in ways that further disadvantage racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.
Within these racial groups, gaps of almost incalculable size exist in the United States with respect to health, access to education, and access to credit and capital. To date and in spite of its shortcomings Affirmative Action has been the only approach that has concretely shifted access to education for black and brown students.
Justice Sotomayor has in the past publicly praised the impact Affirmative Action has had on her education and career. In her dissent, she wrote “entrenched racial inequality remains a reality today. Ignoring race will not equalize a society that is racially unequal.”
We are a society composed of individuals and groups. As such, we must learn to acknowledge both individual achievement and the systemic barriers born from racial bias and discrimination that continue to plague groups of people who continue to be unfairly and equitably treated under the law, now and in the past.
We remain committed to helping leaders work through these complex social paradoxes to arrive at equitable practices, solutions and policies that work for everyone, not just the few. We still believe it is possible to realize the aspiration of E Pluribus Unum: Out of many, one.