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'Misguided conclusion': Weiser rips Supreme Court's affirmative action decisions

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser responded to the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings Thursday that affirmative action is unconstitutional, saying the court came to a "misguided conclusion."

The nation’s highest court ruled Thursday in cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, deciding that race-based admissions policies violate the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit organization, filed the lawsuits against the universities in 2014, arguing policies based on race were unfair to Asian and white students.

“This Court’s misguided conclusion, claiming that these longstanding policies violate the Constitution, threatens to undermine the progress we have made on college campuses to create access for all Americans and ensure a diverse learning environment for all,” Weiser, a Democrat, said in a statement. “…Under this decision, the Supreme Court assigns to itself control over admissions decisions. Contrary to its insistence, this decision will harm university learning environments and force them to adopt second-best solutions to adapt to this problematic ruling.”

Weiser noted the Supreme Court in 2016 upheld the constitutionality of such policies. He said the affirmative action policies, created more than 45 years ago, corrected past discrimination.

University of Colorado officials Thursday affirmed their commitment to diversity.

“We will continue to employ admission processes that consider the whole student and their ability to succeed in our academically rigorous and supportive environment,” University of Colorado President Todd Saliman and the chancellors from the three UC campuses and the medical campus said in a statement. “Our dedication to cultivating a diverse university community runs deep. In fact, our board has set policy that makes it clear that diversity encompasses demographic characteristics while also encompassing diverse life experiences and perspectives.”

Weiser and attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief with the court arguing in favor of the universities.

“In sum, the States’ experience shows that public institutions of higher education that use race-neutral approaches continue to struggle to ensure that students receive the educational benefits that flow from a meaningfully diverse student body,” the brief stated. “Many of our colleges and universities, and particularly selective colleges and universities, continue to require flexibility to choose to use race-conscious admissions policies where necessary as part of highly individualized, holistic consideration of students’ applications in order to further the States’ compelling interest in diversity in higher education.”

Opinions on the ruling from Colorado’s elected officials fell along party lines.

“Affirmative Action is unconstitutional and has always been unconstitutional,” U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., posted on social media. “This country should only be based on merit, not racism. This ruling will go a long way towards achieving a country where we are judged by the content of our character, rather than the color of our skin.”

U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., said the ruling was disastrous for the nation.

“Affirmative action helps ensure students from all backgrounds have a fair opportunity at quality education,” Hickenlooper said on social media. “This is a devastating ruling for America.”