PLBC releases statement on Supreme Court affirmative action ruling

HARRISBURG, June 29 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus said today they are disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, which found Harvard and UNC’s admissions process unconstitutional, dismantling affirmative action and ending the consideration of race in the application process.

Affirmative action in higher education was put in place in the 1960s, allowing admissions departments to consider race as a factor during admissions to enfranchise historically and systemically disadvantaged populations. Affirmative action's significance extended beyond the boundaries of higher education and had become a useful tool to remedy the racial and socioeconomic disparities that hinder access to quality education, economic opportunities and social mobility.

It was an imperfect and partial solution that did help Black and brown students receive admission to institutions they were more than qualified for but otherwise would not have had access to due to racial discrimination and feigned blindness to Black talent.

“This is an incredibly disappointing day for higher education in America. This continued rolling back of rights and norms and standards by the U.S. Supreme Court is a distressing trend. I will fight to make sure our children in Pennsylvania have the same rights and opportunities as their parents and grandparents,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock, chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. “We cannot walk away from our commitment to diversity in Pennsylvania, and we hope and have faith that our state universities will continue to honor those commitments. And, while we believe many universities are dedicated to increasing their ability to find and admit talented Black and brown students, the removal of these legal protections makes it possible for less dedicated universities around the country to return to an era of exclusion.”

The PLBC will examine how universities in states without affirmative action have handled their admissions process and have met with state university representatives to discuss options going forward.

“I am saddened by the court’s ruling on affirmative action, but not at all surprised. I know that our universities place more value on diverse student bodies than this court does, so I am encouraged by their commitment to other admission practices that will overcome the loss of this necessary tool,” state Rep. Napoleon Nelson, vice chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said. “Most importantly, I am more committed than ever to building a K-12 education system that fully invests in our students of color, removing the barriers that necessitated affirmative action in the first place.”

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus wants Pennsylvania's students of color to know that they are talented, gifted and loved, and that the caucus stands with them as they return to campus next fall. They deserve to be there, and the caucus is proud of them.