Politicians And Activists Take To Social Media To Explain The Difference Between Affirmative Action And Legacy Admissions Amid SCOTUS Ruling

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: Supporters of affirmative action protest near the U.S. Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill on June 29, 2023 in Washington, DC. In a 6-3 vote, Supreme Court Justices ruled that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional, setting precedent for affirmative action in other universities and colleges

In the latest landmark ruling, the now predominantly conservative U.S. Supreme Court has voted to strike down Affirmative Action after hearing cases out of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The ruling fell at 6-3, with all three of the left leaning justices voting to uphold the policy. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. stated that the program “unavoidably employs race in a negative manner” that violates the Constitution.

Affirmative Action was brought into the conversation in 1961 when then President John F. Kennedy introduced legislation to push the nation towards racial equity. It was solidified into a higher education policy in 1965 during Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. The policy allows for colleges and universities to consider race as a factor in college admissions, so as to diversify the student body and level the playing field for applicants who had less resources during their high school years.

For decades, predominantly white Republicans have criticized the policy, alleging that it makes it more difficult for white applicants to gain admission into prestigious universities. Misinformation on the policy’s true objectives, and the difference between legacy admissions and Affirmative Action, continues to swirl online amid the Supreme Court’s decision.

Internet Responses

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York’s 14th Congressional District was quick to explain the policy’s longstanding commitment to dismantling systemic oppression in higher education. Cortez went on to explain that the truly restrictive admissions practice was actually legacy admissions.

Legacy admissions are students who apply to the same elite colleges and universities that their parents or family members attended, and often continue to donate to. This in turn tends to overlook a student’s academic abilities in favor of a wealthy family’s reputation, thus limiting admissions spots for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Amid today’s SCOTUS ruling, conservative influencers continue to claim that Affirmative Action allowed for “reverse racism,” a controversial term that many argue does not exist in a society that systemically benefits the white population.


Former First Lady Michelle Obama issued a statement regarding the ruling. Obama, who grew up in Chicago and attended Princeton University as a first generation college student, credits Affirmative Action for the opportunities it gave herself and her few fellow Black classmates at an Ivy League institution in the 1980s. Ivy League institutions are notably among the highest percentage of American universities that favor legacy admissions, often at rates two to five times higher than the ordinary student.

Several Asian-American political commentators and activists remind young Asian students to not fall into the trap of “the model minority myth.” The myth refers to a racially motivated stereotype that East Asian people are always smart in math and science, tend to achieve higher socioeconomic status than other minorities, and are therefore more acceptable in white communities. Today, many encourage Asian American students to learn more about their history, and to not participate in the division being perpetuated among people of color.

Others recognize the potential impacts the ruling could have for medical research in the Black community.


Further Political Response

President Joe Biden later voiced his disagreement with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, voted in favor of upholding Affirmative Action. Her explanation behind her vote is gaining viral traction. Jackson, who grew up in Miami, Florida, attended Harvard University after her school guidance counselor attempted to dissuade her from applying.

Protests continue to erupt nationwide today regarding the Supreme Court’s strike down of Affirmative Action. Colleges continue to issue statements regarding their individual stances on the issue.

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