The Leadership Conference Condemns SCOTUS Decision to Weaken Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and Reject Decades of Precedent

Contact: Mattie Goldman, [email protected]

WASHINGTON – Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, made the following remarks after the U.S. Supreme Court decision to weaken equal opportunity in higher education:

“Today, six Supreme Court justices ignored decades of precedent in its ruling against students of color. They ignored the value of the methods of admission, which take the whole student into account. Without that, we are not being fair to any student, including students of color — particularly Black, Latino, and Native American students — and low-income White students. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to go to college and pursue their dreams. Our country thrives when we benefit from the talents and potential of students from all backgrounds.

“Our nation agrees that we all should have an opportunity to learn, the freedom to learn about racism in history, and access to books in libraries about blackness or gender identity. We want more unity, not more division. Today’s America has still not lived up to the ideals we deeply share as Americans. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissent says it best: ‘Deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.’ Our K-12 school system remains largely segregated and inequitable for students of color. That’s why looking at a student’s full story matters.

“This Court has left room that colleges, universities, K-12 institutions, and everyone must understand, which is that we can and still take into account all the unfair barriers students of color face. The current system favors those who are wealthy, White, and legacy applicants. If you can afford test prep or private counseling to get into a college, you are more likely to be admitted. This is one of the reasons why Black students in particular are deeply underrepresented in selective schools. It is essential to take into account all of the experiences and barriers that students of color and low-income students face, which should not keep them out of higher education in favor of the wealthy, privileged few who are overrepresented on college campuses.

“The American public agrees that we are better and stronger when we all have a fair opportunity to learn. Unfortunately, we have extremists like Ed Blum who back a litigation strategy to divide us — but they do not represent the majority. The civil rights community will not be divided. We want to be a unified country. We want everyone to benefit from the same opportunities no matter what zip code they live in, what community they come from, or whether or not they have had sufficient resources in their schools.

“We will work relentlessly to ensure that all of our students, including students of color, low-income students, and other historically underserved students, are able to get a fair opportunity to learn. We will continue to fight together and not let those who try to pit our communities against each other succeed.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 250 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit