Following SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision, Ranking Member Scott Urges ED to Protect Racial Equity in Education

“The federal government must again take up the mantle of ensuring that all Americans have equal protection under the law.”

WASHINGTON – Today, Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) sent a letter urging the Department of Education (ED) to take steps to protect the civil rights of students following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC.

Despite decades of repeatedly finding that race-conscious admissions policies are consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled in June to reject the consideration of race in college’s undergraduate admissions. In the letter, Ranking Member Scott called for comprehensive guidance to ensure schools and institutions of higher education fulfill their Title VI obligations and address other factors in college admissions—including standardized tests, legacy and developmental admits, and other admissions criteria—that disadvantage historically underrepresented students of color.

“Title VI was enacted to ensure the federal government stood with Americans historically discriminated against on the basis of their race, color, or national origin. Over the last 60 years, a conservative federal judiciary has slowly warped a law designed to ensure Americans of every race have equal footing in our society into one that bans any consideration of race at all.  This perversion of intent reached a new low with the decisions in the recent Harvard and University of North Carolina (UNC) cases overturning the consideration of race as one of many factors IHEs may use in their admissions process,” Ranking Member Scott wrote.

“Now that the Supreme Court has determined that the consideration of race in admissions violates Title VI and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Department should fully investigate how race unjustly permeates many other policies and practices in our educational system. Any honest assessment of the pervasiveness of race in that system would recognize that people of color consistently face unequal discriminatory treatment on the basis of their race, treatment that has been historically counterbalanced by affirmative actions, but now can only be eliminated with robust enforcement of Title VI,” Ranking Member Scott continued.

Since the ruling, the Office of Civil Rights under the Department of Education has opened a Title VI civil rights investigation into whether Harvard University discriminates on the basis of race by using donor and legacy preferences in its undergraduate admissions process.

In May, Ranking Member Scott introduced the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA) to restore the right of students and parents to hold schools accountable for discrimination in education under Title VI.

Read the full text of the letter here.


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