Today’s Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action specifically addressed hiring practices in college admissions but sets a precedent that could affect diversity programs in American corporations.
- On Thursday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its 6-to-3 decision on affirmative action in college admissions, arguing that the practice violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
- Justice Clarence Thomas, the second black American on the Court, called affirmative action a “rudderless, race-based preference designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes.”
- Many expect opponents of affirmative action to use the rule to try to strike down diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices in hiring.
- Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson released a dissent arguing that the decision “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.”
Why It’s Important
The striking down of affirmative action policies for college admissions will likely be only the first place where the law will be tested. These hiring and admissions policies are deeply ingrained in the corporate world, and another lawsuit reaching the Supreme Court—with its current makeup and precedent—could potentially result in changes to corporate hiring policies.
With DEI practices being highly prioritized by the majority of large U.S. corporations, conservative legal groups are already beginning to test the waters. America First Legal has already filed legal complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the hiring practices of large corporations, Axios reports.
While affirmative action was initially created as a means of raising up oppressed racial minorities who were given fewer opportunities, the current legal effort against the practice has largely been led by Asian-Americans who argued that they were being discriminated against in admissions for overperforming.
Nine states had previously outlawed affirmative action prior to the rule. A Harvard study found that the ban resulted in a decrease in black females, Hispanic females, and Asian females’ job hiring.
“[Companies] should expect some litigation as an outcome based on what we think may happen. That doesn’t mean that the litigation will have merit, but it does mean that companies will probably have to spend some money defending claims they otherwise would not have,” Handshake legal officer Valerie Capers Workman tells Axios.