State Assembly Targets Affirmative Action At UW As SCOTUS Ruling Handed Down

June 30, 2023

The US Supreme Court struck down affirmative action on college campuses on Thursday, June 29, 2023 with a 6-3 vote.

“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it. And the Equal Protection Clause, we have accordingly held, applies “without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Justice Clarence Thomas concurred, “In an effort to salvage their patently unconstitutional programs, the universities and their amici pivot to argue that the Fourteenth Amendment permits the use of race to benefit only certain racial groups—rather than applicants writ large. Yet, this is just the latest disguise for discrimination.”

Although not a party in the case, the response from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was swift. In a statement to students, the school said its mission is to “help students develop an understanding and appreciation for the complex cultural and physical worlds in which they live.”

“The ruling will require some modifications to aspects of our current admissions practices; we will, of course, adapt out practices to comply with the law. At the same time, I want to reiterate that our commitment to the values of diversity within our community, including racial diversity, remains a bedrock of the institution,” Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin wrote.

Over at UW-Milwaukee, Chancellor Mark Mone also issued a statement. “UWM does not anticipate this decision to significantly impact our admissions practices,” he wrote. “[UWM] remains committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.”

The state legislature is already thinking of ways to ensure University of Wisconsin schools comply with the ruling.

“We are reviewing the decision and will introduce legislation to correct the discriminatory laws on the books and pass repeals in the fall,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos posted on Twitter.

Rep. Dave Murphy (R-Greenville), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, wrote “I am pleased with the Court’s decision today. Republicans have always believed in merit. People shouldn’t be pigeonholed into categories based only on the color of their skin. They should be recognized as unique individuals. Each student has talents and abilities of their own. Our country is based on equal opportunity, and this decision helps treat college applicants with equality.”

Just as the liberal minority on the Supreme Court disagreed with the ruling, so do Democrats in Wisconsin.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s misguided decision to strike down affirmative action will have incredibly harmful, long term effects on equality in college admissions,” Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer posted.

Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) called the decision a slap in the face.

“In Wisconsin, we have seen decades of harm done to communities of color in order to restrict access to basic human rights and dignities. Systemic harm to people of color at all levels, whether it be the courts, the Legislature, or locally, have proved to be misguided priorities and today’s action is another step towards codifying barriers to opportunities for communities of color,” Johnson wrote.