(LifeSiteNews) — Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced the United States Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action, prompting a wave of criticism from Americans.
Kennedy said in a Thursday tweet that he believes historically racist policies are now “self-perpetuating” and need to be corrected with affirmative action, which uses quotas or special preference in admitting or hiring racial and ethnic minority groups.
Regarding the Supreme Court banning affirmative action in higher ed — I know many Americans feel that purely race-based decisions are unfair. However, this feeling misses important context. The effects of racist policies going back centuries are now self-perpetuating.
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) June 29, 2023
“Affirmative action… uses race-based policies to undo the effects of racist policies,” wrote Kennedy. “‘Color-blind’ admissions tend to favor those who are already in the circle of privilege. It favors those who grew up in affluent, educated households. Wouldn’t you like to invite in those who have been left out in the cold?”
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that affirmative action policies in place at Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC) violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which mandates that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
“The Supreme Court has always acknowledged that the central promise of the Equal Protection Clause is to forbid laws and public policies that discriminate on the basis of race,” Breitbart News noted.
Accordingly, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the decision, “The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual – not on the basis of race,”
“Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice,” Roberts continued.
The judge added that “nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion, regarding Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissent, that “none of the statistics” she cited “are capable of drawing a direct causal link between race – rather than socioeconomic status or any other factor – and individual outcomes.”
“If an applicant has less financial means (because of generational inheritance or otherwise), then surely a university may take that into account. If an applicant has medical struggles or a family member with medical concerns, a university may consider that too. What it cannot do is use the applicant’s skin color as a heuristic, assuming that because the applicant checks the box for ‘black’ he therefore conforms to the university’s monolithic and reductionist view of an abstract, average black person,” wrote Thomas.
While the response to Kennedy’s tweet shows that a sizable part of his audience supports his pro-affirmative action views, many of his followers signaled disagreement on the issue, with some sharing that their interest in him as a presidential candidate plummeted.
“Well, my interest in the Kennedy candidacy has just dropped 75%. Too bad. He was interesting for a short period of time,” tweeted a U.S. Navy veteran living in Japan.
Rising star Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy reacted to Kennedy’s support for affirmative action, taking to Twitter to “strongly disagree” with his comments.
Arguing that Kennedy is simply “wrong,” Ramaswamy said that the “majority of black students at Harvard are not descendants of slaves but descendants of immigrants. Giving special preferences to someone who *looks like* a person who once suffered is not justice.”
“We should finally embrace colorblind meritocracy in America rather than to repeat our past mistakes,” the pro-life presidential candidate said.
I strongly disagree with @RobertKennedyJr that affirmative action is about “letting in those who have been left out in the cold.” That’s wrong. The majority of black students at Harvard are not descendants of slaves but descendants of immigrants. Giving special preferences to… https://t.co/OkrgxzGXay
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) June 29, 2023
In a political survey, voters indicated that they generally consider the issue of affirmative action to be of low importance for presidential candidates. It remains to be seen how Kennedy’s pro-affirmative action stance will fully impact his popularity.
A chart has been circulating on social media showing “astonishing racial disparities in admission rates among similarly qualified applicants” at Harvard. For example, white students in the highest academic decile have a 15.3 percent chance of admission to Harvard, whereas African American students in the same academic decile have a 56.1 percent chance of admission.
The data was compiled by Students for Fair Admissions, the group that filed the lawsuit culminating in Thursday’s Supreme Court decision.
Kennedy’s uncle, former president John F. Kennedy, signed an executive order in 1961 creating the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (PCEEO), and mandating that all government contracts “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”
The PCEEO was said not to demand “any special preference or treatment or quotas for minorities” but rather to advocate “racially neutral hiring to end job discrimination,” according to The Pursuit of Fairness by Terry H. Anderson.
In a supplement to his 1961 executive order, JFK issued an order declaring that it was the “policy of the United States to encourage by affirmative action the elimination of discrimination in employment,” Anderson noted.