In a series of opinions released this week, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled against racial affirmative action and the student loan cancellation proposed by the Biden administration. Two cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a group led by conservative activist Edward Blum, claimed that the policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that they effectively discriminated against Asian students. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that students need to be treated “based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race.” These decisions have elicited many responses, including from President Gearan who wrote in a statement to the campus community that “Hobart and William Smith remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging. We will do all we can to ensure that deserving students continue to have access to an HWS education and that an HWS education continues to be one that embodies diverse perspectives and experiences.” In her dissent, Justice Sonya Sotomayor argued that the decision “cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter”
As the ramifications of this decision came into focus, the court announced a third decision which held that the Biden administration’s debt forgiveness plan wasn’t properly authorized by the HEROES Act which it cited. In response, Biden pledged to pursue the plan under the authority of the Higher Education Act. How this approach works out remains to be seen.