AFL-CIO: Supreme Court’s Decision on Affirmative Action Will Undo Years of Progress
Statement from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina:
America’s unions are deeply disappointed by today’s decision from the Supreme Court to reverse the longstanding precedent of affirmative action in college admissions. With this decision, universities no longer may use race as one of the criteria in admissions decisions, despite the value diversity in the student body demonstrably adds to the educational experience of all students and our communities. Other race-neutral measures fall short of the goal of increasing student body diversity—and this court now strikes a substantial blow to the ongoing fight for racial equity and economic justice.
Over the last five decades, affirmative action has been a critical tool for addressing discrimination and racial bias. It has helped to level the playing field in our nation’s institutions of higher learning and created equal opportunity in the college admissions process so that students of color and people from disadvantaged backgrounds can aspire to the same educational success as everyone else. As Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote powerfully in her dissent, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life,” and in their haste to do away with affirmative action, the conservative justices proved their callousness and disregard for the reality of systemic racism and its ongoing effects. To paraphrase Justice Jackson’s dissent, preventing consideration of race does not end racism.
The Supreme Court’s opinion will not deter us from our continued efforts to achieve racial justice and equal opportunity in every facet of our society. Our unions will continue to organize and use every tool at our disposal to ensure all workers and their families have a fair shot at a better life.