The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Affirmative Action and a College Education

Jul 23, 2023

On June 29, the U.S. Supreme court threw out a 40-year-old program that aimed to increase enrollment of minority students in top colleges: Affirmative action. The court ruled that at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, race-conscious admissions policies violate the Constitution.

To support their opinion, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas declared that the U.S. Constitution is so-called “color-blind” since the word “race” is not in the Constitution. As if playing “word search” with the Constitution makes racism magically disappear!

Out of the 4,000 colleges in the U.S., only slightly more than 200 have very selective admissions policies. It was these colleges that had been using affirmative action in admissions.

In this society, it is the graduates of these “elite” colleges who tend to become future high government officials and business executives. Thus, affirmative action at these institutions helped diversify those at the top of this society. For example, eight out of the nine Supreme Court justices went to law school at either Harvard or Yale.

The ending of affirmative action will not end preferential treatment in college admissions at elite universities. Something called “legacy” admissions continues at 100 of the most selective colleges, including the entire Ivy League! Legacy admission is preferential treatment given to wealthy students whose parents went to that school. It has always been a lie that top schools admit students simply on their own “merits.”

This Supreme Court ruling signals a further move to the right and a decision by part of the ruling echelons of this society to no longer redress inequality and past injustice. That is their decision. But a mobilized population could enforce a very different decision—one that pushes to end inequality and opens up quality education for all who want to learn!