Affirmative Action Goes; Massachusetts Politicians and Organizations React

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The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the race-based policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday, June 29, ruling such policies are unconstitutional, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Justice Clarance Thomas labeled the university’s policies “rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in the entering classes.”

The court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina was 6-3.

The Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College was 6-2, as Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson, a liberal, recused herself from the case for being a former member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers. She also graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and she has a daughter at the college.

Several Massachusetts politicians and organizations reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision. Their reactions are below.



U.S. Senator Ed Markey

“The far-right, extremist majority on the Supreme Court just struck down affirmative action — a critical tool for colleges and universities to advance racial justice, equity, and diversity across the United States. We’ll be live in Boston at 1pm to respond.”

Via Twitter

You can watch Markey’s twenty-minute speech delivered in Boston Thursday, June 29, here:


U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren

“An extremist Supreme Court has once again reversed decades of settled law, rolled back the march toward racial justice, and narrowed educational opportunity for all. I won’t stop fighting for young people with big dreams who deserve an equal chance to pursue their future.”

Via Twitter


Governor Maura Healey

“In Massachusetts – home to the first public school and first university – our commitment to equity, inclusion, and representation in education remains unshakable.”

Via Twitter

Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll also released a joint statement signed by 130 Massachusetts colleges and universities, organizations, and elected officials.

The statement is below:


“Massachusetts will always be welcoming and inclusive of students of color and students historically underrepresented in higher education. Today’s Supreme Court decision overturns decades of settled law. In the Commonwealth, our values and our commitment to progress and continued representation in education remain unshakable.

We will continue to break down barriers to higher education so that all students see themselves represented in both our public and private campus communities. Massachusetts, the home of the first public school and first university, will lead the way in championing access, equity, and inclusion in education.

We want to make sure that students of color, LGBTQ+ students, first generation students, and all students historically underrepresented in higher education feel welcomed and valued at our colleges and universities. Today’s decision, while disappointing, will not change our commitment to these students. We have an imperative to make sure our schools reflect our communities. Our academic competitiveness, the future of our workforce, and our commitment to equity demand we take action.”



Representative Ayanna Pressley


Via Twitter

The quote is from Justice Ketanji-Brown Jackson’s dissent on the case regarding North Carolina.


Representative Katherine Clark

Today’s #SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action undermines 5 decades of precedent and our march toward progress.

The extremist majority applied a color-blind standard when we know we don’t live in a color-blind society.

This only further undermines the Court and its legitimacy.”

Via Twitter


Representative Lori Trahan

“The notion that prohibiting colleges from considering race as a factor for admission protects Black and brown students is ridiculous. This decision turns back the clock on the progress made to ensure more equitable access to higher education, particularly prestigious schools. 1/2”

“Once again, this decision by the Supreme Court will benefit the wealthy and well off — folks with the money and connections to access more exclusive schools — while the students who pay the price will be from disadvantaged communities who have been traditionally overlooked. 2/2”

Via Twitter


ACLU Massachusetts

“Today, SCOTUS struck down Harvard and UNC’s affirmative action programs, restricting the schools’ ability to fully address systemic racial inequalities that persist in higher education.”

Via Twitter


Massachusetts Teachers Association

“As a union of educators from preK through higher education dedicated to providing everyone fair and equal access to high-quality public education, we condemn the Supreme Court’s decision today. By striking down affirmative action, the court is widening the racial education gap and turning back decades of progress. This decision will have harmful consequences for all students – but particularly Black, Latino, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous students.

Obtaining higher education remains one of the most effective means of achieving a healthier democracy and providing socioeconomic mobility to those who seek it. And yet, access to a college degree has never been a fair process in this country. Indeed, even as the Supreme Court has thrown out the use of race as a consideration in admissions, preferences for the children of wealthy donors, children of alumni and athletes remain, all of which skew our admissions toward those with longstanding class and race privilege. Even when colleges have been allowed to use race as a factor in admissions, students of color faced substantial barriers to not only gaining entrance to higher education, but also completing their degree programs.

Today, those barriers became even higher.

Public colleges and universities have an even greater responsibility than private institutions in ensuring that every resident who is college ready can actually pursue — and obtain — a degree.

In Massachusetts and throughout the nation, the cost of attending a public college or university in many cases remains prohibitive. Tuition, fees and associated costs such as housing, books and other expenses have gone up. Aid relative to the cost has gone down. Borrowing to attend public higher education has increased — both in terms of the numbers of students needing loans and the amount of those loans — and that growing debt burden is falling hardest on our BIPOC students.

To truly make higher education accessible to all, we need more than words; we need action right here in Massachusetts.

Access to high-quality, debt-free public higher education is essential to achieving racial and economic justice. Passing the Cherish Act, now before the state Legislature, is an excellent first step toward that goal. Other provisions of that bill will improve availability of support services for Asian-American, Black, Latino and other marginalized, nontraditional and first-generation students, increasing the likelihood of success in their academic and career pursuits.

While our state Legislature doesn’t have the power to overturn a terrible ruling by the Supreme Court, there is more we can do to protect and improve access to higher education in our state, despite this setback.”




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