October 31, 2022

The Packed U.S. Supreme Court Takes Aim at Affirmative Action

Contact: Nancy Rodriguez, 

Washington, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in two cases related to affirmative action: Students for Fair Admissions Inc v. Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc v. University of North Carolina.

“As Justice Kagan noted, part of ‘American pluralism is that ... our institutions are reflective of who we are as a people in all our variety.’ To this day, our elite educational institutions fail to reflect the diversity of this country due in no small part to historic and enduring inequity in access to these institutions,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “With these two cases, the Supreme Court could eliminate the narrow but critically important precedent that upholds affirmative action in school admissions processes and that the Court has been whittling away for years. These cases should also be viewed in connection with Merrill v. Milligan, the racial gerrymandering case argued before the Court earlier this month. If this packed Court rules that race cannot be taken into account in college admissions or in drawing electoral maps to reflect and meaningfully represent our diverse society, it will strike an enormous blow to this country’s pursuit of a genuine multiracial democracy – and will further entrench white supremacy in our laws and legal systems.”

“It is deeply alarming to hear justices ask, ‘when is the endpoint’ for affirmative action, as if a magic wand can be waived to end systemic racism in this country, including in access to higher education,” said ACS Executive Vice President Zinelle October. “It is symptomatic of this packed Court’s persistent denial of enduring racism, whether in our election laws or in education access. We need broad, systemic transformation of our laws and legal systems to foster and achieve racial equity, which is why ACS is committed to truth, racial healing, and transformation. Affirmative action is but one of the many necessary tools to advance this work, and its fate before our highest court will have immediate and reverberating effects on this country’s broader pursuit of racial equity.”


ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter @acslaw.