Princeton University: ‘Supreme Court decision will make our work more difficult’

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Supreme Court’s extreme stance does not reflect the values of New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said

Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber has called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision “unwelcome and disappointing” after the court overturned affirmative action in college admissions.

In two seperate cases that related to affirmative action, the Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that the admission programs of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment in their use of race as a factor in decisions to admit prospective students during the admissions process.

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The conservative majority court ruled 6-3 in the UNC case and 6-2 in the Harvard case, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had recused herself from the Harvard case due to having served as a member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

“This morning’s opinion is unwelcome and disappointing, but it is not unexpected,” Eisgruber said. “Princeton has been preparing for this possibility with assistance and advice from legal counsel.

“While today’s decision will make our work more difficult, we will work vigorously to preserve — and, indeed, grow — the diversity of our community while fully respecting the law as announced today.”

Eisgruber noted that the court’s ruling narrows colleges and university discretion significantly in finding and attracting students in every sector of society.

“Diversity is essential to the excellence of this University and to the future of our country and the world,” he said. “Princeton will pursue it with energy, persistence, and a determination to succeed despite the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court in its regrettable decision today.”

In the Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion for both UNC and Harvard cases. He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

“Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping and lack meaningful end points,” he wrote.

“Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race has affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise,” Roberts added.

In dissent for the UNC case joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Jackson wrote “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

“The court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems,” she added.

A recent Pew Research survey released in June found that more than 50% of respondents disapproved of colleges and universities taking race and ethnic backgrounds into admissions decisions. Only 33% approved in the survey and 16% were not sure.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Gov. Phil Murphy condemned the decision and reaffirmed his Administration’s commitment to promoting diversity and equity in New Jersey.

“Sadly, this decision is yet another way in which the U.S. Supreme Court is taking our country backwards.

“Systemic inequities remain stubbornly rooted in our society, yet a college degree has long offered a path to opportunity and financial success. For generations, equitable access to higher education has meant social mobility for those who come from under-resourced communities. That too has been the heart of the American Dream – that if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams. But today’s decision will make it harder for many institutions to implement admissions policies that promote equitable access to education and that result in a student body whose members can learn from each other’s diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

“The Supreme Court’s extreme stance does not reflect the values of New Jersey. My Administration remains committed to advancing equity in every area of our society and will be working with our partners in higher education to determine ways to promote equitable admissions within the constraints of this ruling,” Murphy said.

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