July 5, 2023
In the three seminal cases handed down last week, including ending affirmative action in college admissions, the U.S. Supreme Court decision took direct aim at racial justice, economic security, equality, and the fundamental right to be free from discrimination based on one’s sexual identity. The Center for Children’s Advocacy has been fighting for fundamental rights for twenty-five years. The recent Supreme Court decision has undermined and disregarded these efforts, and the efforts of social justice advocates across the nation, resulting in significant harm to some of the most vulnerable populations in the country.
The End of Affirmative Action in College Admissions
On Thursday, the Court rejected Affirmative Action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in the case of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Affirmative action programs attempt to eradicate historical and systemic racism in American colleges and universities. As a result, this changes the landscape of higher education by allowing these institutions to consider race as a factor in admitting students in order to create a more diverse student body. The Court’s rejection of this practice, utilized as a tool on college campuses for almost forty-five years, explicitly rejects the notion that racism still exists as a determinative factor in American society.
Affirmative action has also been the pathway for many of CCA’s present and former clients to break into spaces to which they may never have been welcome, including admission to and graduation from some of Connecticut’s finest schools.
Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that this decision “… subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.”
Disparaging the Fundamental Rights for LGBTQ+ Couples
On Friday, the Court took direct aim at a fundamental principle for which we have directly advocated and increasingly dedicate CCA’s practices – the right to engage in human relationships with whomever one chooses, without the fear of discrimination for engaging in that relationship.
In the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Court ruled that a web designer, who had not yet begun her wedding design business, had the right to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking web design services … at some point in the future.
This Supreme Court decision directly attacks protections that provide equal rights for LGBTQ+ individuals and forewarns a new and dangerous attempt to roll back the monumental gains realized over the last two decades (e.g. Obergefell v. Hodges).
Make no mistake – this decision is equally as unjust as the affirmative action case. In this case, the subversion of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause foreshadows a difficult legal and political road ahead.
Barriers to Economic Equity for Student Loan Borrowers
Finally, in the student loan case (Biden v. Nebraska), the Court took direct aim at a key attempt by the Biden administration to ease the burden on young individuals saddled with student loans. The Supreme Court sided with a loan processing company, which had suffered no injury, over an attempt by the government to cancel over $430 billion of student debt.
This supreme court decision is most disconcerting because almost every student CCA has ever represented, counseled, or worked with directly benefited from this program. The Biden administration has set plans to relieve this debt through an alternative, rule-based program.
Our Ongoing Commitment Amidst Great Adversity
CCA’s work has always reflected a commitment to the principles that the Supreme Court has recently directly attacked. Sheff v. O’Neill, the landmark school desegregation case filed in 1989, rests on the same principles gutted by the Supreme Court last week.
And while Sheff will remain good law because of its state constitutional basis, all of CCA’s dedicated work will be under attack by those who seek to demean and undermine these principles going forward. Our work involves educational equity, racial justice, health equity, immigrants’ rights, and the right to fair and adequate shelter.
At CCA, we are committed to our efforts of ensuring fairness and equality. We vow to uphold our work in preventing the disproportionate suspension or expulsion of students of color. CCA will continue to hold segregated schools in Hartford and Bridgeport accountable under state Constitutional scrutiny. We believe that every child, no matter where they were born, deserves access to quality and affordable healthcare. Furthermore, we stand for the equal and dignified treatment of LGBTQ+ youth in schools and communities. CCA’s aim to empower youth and ensure that their voices are heard and respected. We are determined to redouble our efforts in achieving these goals.
We pledge to combat the bigotry, racism, and hatred that to affect those for whom we fight until justice returns to the forefront of the American legal system.
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