‘Not A Normal Court’: Joe Biden Slams Affirmative Action Ruling

The president said he strongly disagrees with the decision.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday criticised the Supreme Court’s ruling banning colleges from considering race when deciding whether to admit applicants.

“The court has effectively ended affirmative action in college admissions, and I strongly disagree with that decision,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “Today, the court once again walked away from decades of precedents.”

Biden said the US military ― “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” ― was proof that diversity brought strength, and that principle held true in other areas as well.

“I believe our colleges are stronger when they are racially diverse,” he said, urging private businesses not to use Thursday morning’s decision to roll back their own diversity programs.

“We cannot let this decision be a permanent setback for the country,” he said. “We’re not going to let this break us.”

Asked by a reporter if he believed the Supreme Court ― which also overturned decades of precedent by eliminating Roe v. Wade’s protection of abortion rights last year ― was a “rogue court,” Biden responded: “This is not a normal court.”

Biden urged colleges to maintain diversity in their student bodies by looking at students’ backgrounds in addition to their grades and test scores.

“When a poor kid, maybe the first in their family to go to college, gets the same grades and test scores as a wealthy kid, whose whole family has gone to the most elite colleges in the country and whose path has been a lot easier, well, the kid who faced tougher challenges has demonstrated more grit, more determination, and that should be a factor that colleges should take into account in admissions,” Biden said.

In a pair of rulings, the Republican-appointed majority of the Supreme Court found that colleges cannot use race as a basis for admissions decisions, although it allowed applicants to discuss how race shaped their individual experience.

It remains unclear what actions Biden could take to undo the Supreme Court’s decision.

He said he is asking the Department of Education to look for ways to maintain diversity in student bodies and identify policies that enhance diversity and those that likely hurt it ― like “legacy” admissions that give preference to children of alumni.

Biden said the country was founded on the ideals of giving every citizen a chance to succeed.

“We’ve never fully lived up to it, but we’ve never walked away from it, either,” he said. “We will not walk away from it now.”

In an interview with MSNBC later on Thursday, Biden expanded on what he meant when he called the court not “normal,” a remark that drew widespread attention.

“What I meant by that is it’s done more to unravel basic rights and basic decisions than any court in recent history,” Biden said. “It’s gone out of its way to ― I mean, for example, take a look at overruling Roe v. Wade, take a look at the decision today. Take a look at how it’s ruled on a number of issues that have been precedent for 50, 60 years sometimes.”

Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.


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