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“I am concerned”: House Dems fear the end of affirmative action will impact more than just higher ed
Plus: How they plan to campaign on the issue ahead of next year’s election and if there are any immediate legislative solutions Congress can pursue to mitigate the harm of the decision.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
After the Supreme Court released its decision overturning affirmative action in college admissions, a legal expert texted your Supercreator Daily author: “It’s very, very bad. And now the justices can go off on summer vacation, funded by who-knows-what billionaire donors, and do their own thing.”
But while the court is in recess until October following its second term under a six-to-three conservative supermajority bolstered by three appointments by former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are left with figuring out how to move forward with very little meaningful recourse.
Supercreator Daily joined a late Thursday afternoon press call with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus — collectively known as the Tri-Caucus — to discuss the decision from their perspective.
Below are three takeaways to contemplate as the ramifications of the end of race-based admissions come into clearer focus in the coming weeks, months, and years.
1. The implications of the decision extend beyond higher education.
During a panel discussion on CNN’s political talk show Inside Politics, Abby Phillip, who anchors the Sunday edition, predicted conservatives will now expand the court’s ruling that structural racism in an education system designed to specifically disadvantage Black people doesn’t matter into other aspects of American life.
“Where we stand now, I think that the discussion has broadened well beyond education,” Phillip said. “This is the first foray. It’s one of the longest fights that hgve been fought, but I think we’re going to start seeing this conversation expanding in other aspects of life.”
The legal expert who texted your Supercreator author warned if the Supreme Court closes the loopholes left open by Thursday’s decision in its future decision, they envision the impact it could have on the recruitment of college athletes.
“We are still allowed to recruit for ‘special gifts’ under this decision, but everybody knows that coaches are intimately aware of the race of their student athlete applicants,” the expert said. “I can see a case where a white running back brings a lawsuit against the university because they didn’t get in and get a scholarship because a running back of color did.”
CAPAC chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said the decision could stifle corporate diversity and inclusion as well.
“I am concerned about the impact of this decision on diversity in employment, on corporate boards, in all factors of our society,” Chu said to Supercreator. “And we know that all these bodies are better when they represent the people that utilize these services or are in these bodies. And that is something that can very much undermine the diversity that we’ve achieved so far.”
2. House Dems think the end of affirmative action is a winning campaign issue.
Chu told Nicholas Wu of Politico that the majority of the caucus’s members support affirmative action and that the court’s decision will galvanize voters who are concerned about the dream of a higher education for their communities.
“We are already [seeing] Trump taking credit for this court ruling,” Chu said. “And I just hope that it becomes abundantly and crystal clear for Americans across the country that they can see that this Supreme Court and extreme Republican candidates are not on their side.”
Even President Biden, who spent years as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is deliberate in his commentary on the nation’s democratic institutions, found himself weighing in on the politics of the decision after he gave remarks on his administration’s response to it.
“This is not a normal court,” he said when asked if the current court is a rogue after the Black Caucus said the affirmative action decision has thrown the court’s legitimacy into question.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace hours later, Biden added that the Supreme Court has done more to unravel basic rights than any other court in recent history.
“And that’s what I meant by not normal.”
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), a CBC member and the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, agreed that winning the court of public opinion would be key to making the legislative inroads required to promote student diversity in higher education.
“This is gonna cause some heartburn,” Scott said. “But what we need to campaign on is the fact that we are opening opportunities to everybody and we’ll do everything we can to maintain opportunities.”
3. As with abortion rights, legislative solutions to restoring affirmative action are scant.
Scott anticipates it will be a challenge to develop a statutory response to the court’s funding that affirmative action in college admissions is unconstitutional.
But he called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to start filing cases against any current admissions standards that violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Legacy admissions, which gives certain applicants preference based on their familial relationship to alumni of an institution, will also be a target for reform or elimination for lawmakers like Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a CHC member and former chair.
“There is a very bitter irony to the fact that for generations, many of our nation’s colleges and universities, including the two that I went to, have used legacy-based admissions to admit students whose main qualification was that their parents attended those schools,” he said. “That still goes on today. And so I do think it’s time that we take up the issue of ending legacy-based admissions in higher education in the United States of America.”
Following the decision, President Biden said he directed the Education Department to analyze how practices like legacy admissions and other systems that expand privilege instead of opportunity prevent colleges and universities from building inclusive and diverse student bodies.
Congress — and in particular, the House — is authorized with the power of the purse: The ability to direct government funding. And Chu said she would use her influence to secure additional resources for minority-serving institutions.
The legislative branch is also empowered with broad oversight authority, which Chu said should be wielded to combat discrimination in education.
Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.) of the CBC and CAPAC indicated House Democrats would coordinate once they return to Capitol Hill after the July 4th holiday.
“When we get back the week after next, we’ll have plenty of time to regroup and figure out how we want to approach it legislatively or otherwise.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your indispensable guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Friday, June 30, 2023. Your Supercreator Daily author is waiting on pins and needles for SCOTUS’s decision on President Biden’s student debt relief program.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
10 a.m. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will visit US Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina to celebrate and honor Marine graduates and their families. She will also attend and speak at the Marine Corps graduation ceremony.
11 a.m. President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
4 p.m. The president will leave the White House to go to Camp David. He will arrive at 4:20 p.m.
4:50 p.m. Vice President Harris will participate in a conversation on reproductive freedom and the maternal health crisis at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans.
7:10 p.m. The vice president will leave New Orleans and arrive in Los Angeles at 11 p.m.
The House and Senate are out.
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