This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court released its majority decisions in the cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, finding that Harvard and UNC’s admissions policies violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and are therefore unconstitutional. In response, leaders of The Century Foundation and Next100 released the following statements:

Mark Zuckerman, President of The Century Foundation and former deputy director of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a devastating setback for racial equity in higher education, and will make it more difficult for people of color to access our nation’s top colleges and universities. The Court has effectively turned the clock back a generation, reversing meaningful progress that students of color have made in part due to race-conscious admissions policies that helped level the playing field. Ignoring decades of evidence, the majority decision belies the unfortunate truth that systemic racism remains a powerful force in American life, and it actively puts students of color at a disadvantage. It is a decision that is detached from reality, short-sighted, and wrong.

“As my TCF colleagues have written, today’s decision makes it all the more important that both education leaders and elected officials pursue all possible steps to advance racial diversity, equity, and inclusion—all the way from pre-K classrooms to college campuses. This includes, for example, developing new and creative admissions criteria to promote diversity, investing significantly more funding in the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and taking steps to make college more affordable and accessible for students of color, and all students, in the first place. Because despite what the Supreme Court’s ruling may suggest, ensuring racial diversity and equal opportunity remains a vital national interest—and a goal that remains far from realized. In the wake of this decision, it’s incumbent on all Americans to redouble our efforts to ensure that racial diversity exists in all of our educational settings.”

Stefan Lallinger, Executive Director of Next100 and Director of TCF’s Bridges Collaborative, a nationwide K-12 school integration initiative:

“This decision deals a massive blow for educational equity. Race-conscious affirmative action is an important tool for promoting equity and opportunity in higher education, ensuring that students of color get access to leading colleges and universities and that institutions have racially diverse learning environments that benefit all students. With this setback for equity and diversity in higher education, it is even more important that pre-K-12 schools and districts promote opportunity and diverse learning environments for students of color and other students from historically underserved groups.

“There are still many strategies that K-12 schools can use to promote integration by race and class and to prepare students of color and low-income students for success after high school, and it is essential that school districts and charter schools double down on these efforts. The Century Foundation’s Bridges Collaborative has supported leaders from nearly 50 different school districts and charter schools across the country in promoting racial and socioeconomic integration in their schools and communities, and we stand ready to work with more. We encourage K-12 education leaders to reach out to us at [email protected].”

For additional background, see TCF’s recent pieces: