Sotomayor, Jackson slam Thomas in SCOTUS affirmative action case

Left: Justice Sonia Sotomayor; Center: Justice Clarence Thomas; Right: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (image via Erin Schaff/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court eradicated race-based affirmative action programs in college admissions Thursday when it ruled 6-3 that programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson slammed the Court’s decision as being “without any basis in law, history, logic, or justice,” and grounded instead in “let-them-eat-cake obliviousness.”

Likewise, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision “not grounded in law or fact” and in conflict with “the vision of equality embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment.” She reduced the majority’s decision to an unwise move undertaken by unelected judges acting with willful blindness:

At bottom, the six unelected members of today’s majority upend the status quo based on their policy preferences about what race in America should be like, but is not, and their preferences for a veneer of colorblindness in a society where race has always mattered and continues to matter in fact and in law.

Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority opinion.

“University programs must comply with strict scrutiny, they may never use race as a stereotype or negative, and — at some point — they must end,” he wrote. “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, who said during oral arguments that he had “no clue” what diversity because, in his words, “it seems to mean everything for everyone,” penned a lengthy concurrence that encapsulated the principle that race-based affirmative action is wrong because it is itself a form of racism that demands unequal treatment for those of different races.

Speaking directly to the three dissenting justices, Thomas acknowledged their sincere beliefs, but said  “experts and elites have been wrong before — and they may prove to be wrong again.”

“The stakes are simply too high to gamble,” said Thomas. “Then, as now, the views that motivated Dred Scott and Plessy have not been confined to the past, and we must remain ever vigilant against all forms of racial discrimination.”

Jackson, the Supreme Court’s first Black woman justice, minced no words as she began with a check-in on the current state of systemic racism in the U.S.:

Gulf-sized race-based gaps exist with respect to the health, wealth, and well-being of American citizens. They were created in the distant past, but have indisputably been passed down to the present day through the generations. Every moment these gaps persist is a moment in which this great country falls short of actualizing one of its foundational principles—the “self-evident” truth that all of us are created equal.

In stark contrast to the chief justice’s proclamation that “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it,” Jackson bluntly wrote: “Our country has never been colorblind.”

Sotomayor, Jackson slam Thomas in SCOTUS affirmative action case

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