Press Release

AALDEF condemns SCOTUS decision to undermine affirmative action at Harvard and UNC

Image for AALDEF condemns SCOTUS decision to undermine affirmative action at Harvard and UNC

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision on two cases challenging race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, ruling that the schools’ programs were unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roberts cited the Equal Protection Clause in his opinion for the conservative majority. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) issued the below statement in response:

“The Supreme Court has rolled back progress in the fight for racial justice by undermining affirmative action programs at Harvard and UNC. By pitting communities of color against each other, the Court’s decision discounts broad Asian American support for race-conscious admissions and the importance of ensuring diversity in our classrooms. Together with other communities of color, we will continue to ensure that the pathways to opportunity and leadership are open to all,” said Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF.

“It makes me angry to see the Supreme Court wield the history of the Equal Protection Clause and the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education in a way that is antithetical to its purpose. Brown helped desegregate our schools and give students of color a fighting chance at a good education. The decision today uses the false myth of color blindness to undermine an important tool for correcting these disparities. When you purport to be color blind, you're saying you don't see race. But if you don't see race, you don't see the disparities in education, in health, in jobs, and in society at large that racial minorities including Asian Americans have historically faced and continue to face today,” said Bethany Li, legal director of AALDEF.

Last year, AALDEF and co-counsel Foley Hoag submitted an amicus brief on behalf of 121 Asian American legal scholars and groups in support of race-conscious admissions programs at colleges and universities. In a scathing dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited AALDEF's brief three times. Notably, Sotomayor called out the Court's suggestion that the term Asian American was developed by respondents uninterested in whether Asian American students are adequately represented. “That argument offends the history of that term," wrote Sotomayor. “The term ‘Asian American’ was coined in the late 1960s by Asian American activists—mostly college students—to unify Asian ethnic groups that shared common experiences of race-based violence and discrimination and to advocate for civil rights and visibility,” she shared, quoting from our brief.


For additional information, contact:

Stuart J. Sia
Communications Director
212.966.5932 x203