The Equal Justice Society shares its profound anger and disappointment in the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court today in SFFA v. UNC and SFFA v. Harvard. These decisions are a severe blow to the equal opportunity and fairness that EJS fights for and that everyone in this country deserves. Our nation’s future depends on racial equity and diversity in higher education to achieve a thriving, multiracial democracy. We must all continue to work together to achieve that goal. EJS is more committed than ever to countering white supremacy in higher education and in all our institutions.
In dissent, Justice Sotomayor decries the decisions as “subvert[ing] the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.” Her opinion cites to the amicus brief filed by EJS and ChangeLawyers.
Lisa Holder, President of Equal Justice Society: “We have to stop pretending that we are a colorblind society. We must stop pretending that acknowledging race constitutes racism. We must stop pretending that we have a level playing field. And we must resist the false equivalency construct that equates affirmative action with reverse racism.
“In every sector, we see statistical outcomes that demonstrate that Black and Brown people continue to fall to the bottom, not because of a lack of industry, but because of the persistence of legacies of inequality and bias. We must continue to take affirmative steps to overcome our history of inequality, to repair the harm, to manage our implicit biases, to create equal opportunity, and to level the playing field.”
We will continue our robust pursuit of alternate paths to eliminate barriers faced by people of color. EJS’s successful lawsuit against the UC Regents to eliminate the use of standardized tests in admissions is an example of attacking structural impediments that were significant barriers for student applicants of color and student applicants with disabilities.
We must repair the harm and enact reparations. Reparations will include programs that disrupt racism within our major institutions, such as education, but also housing, criminal-legal systems, health and medicine, and financial wealth and asset-building infrastructure. Fixing systemic racism and rehabilitating institutions will require major changes to these sectors. In order to match the scale of America’s greatest injustice, we must be prepared for remedies on a scale approaching the Great Society programs of Medicare and Medicaid. EJS President Lisa Holder is a member of the California Reparations Task Force and co-author of the task force report that is being issued today.
We must renew efforts to reform the Supreme Court. EJS will not be deterred by a Supreme Court majority running roughshod over our civil and human rights. We have a right-wing supermajority on the Court because a Republican President and Republican Senate Majority Leader manipulated the system. Their misdeeds led to the de facto shrinking of the Supreme Court in the last year of President Obama’s term and a flawed confirmation process that made Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court Justices.
EJS is a founding partner of United for Democracy, a new coalition leading a sustained public campaign to highlight the hold that right-wing extremists have over America’s judiciary resulting in rulings that benefit elites and corporations, invalidate policies that are favored by most Americans, and attack our core freedoms. EJS also joined with Take Back the Court in September 2022 on an issue brief describing the stakes of the Court’s threat to fair opportunity in higher education.
“We must remember that our civil rights icons put their lives on the line to establish programs to counteract historical and systemic racism in education, and it is these programs that are at risk. We still have partisan extremists on the court that must still be held accountable. Congress must do its job and rein in the Court’s unchecked powers. We are proud to be a founding partner of United For Democracy, a new campaign to hold the Supreme Court accountable. We won’t be deterred from fighting for a Court that makes just and equitable decisions,” said Holder.