University of California Irvine law professor Michele Goodwin reacts to ban on race-based admissions.
California’s pipeline programs are initiatives that other states can adopt to bridge the gap for students of color now that the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed race-based college admissions in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) v. Harvard and University of North Carolina, according to a University of California Irvine professor of law.
“The University of California Irvine has long had pipeline programs to try to reach into middle schools and high schools to help prepare those students for college and later on for graduate schools,” said University of California Irvine Chancellor’s Professor Michele Goodwin. “That’s still an effort that is in progress.”
The Golden State is ahead of the controversial ruling because in 1996, Californians voted to ban affirmative action in public schools. Affirmative action in college admissions is the practice of admitting a student based on race.
“Almost immediately after the referendum that ended affirmative action amongst California schools we noticed a precipitous drop in the enrollment of black and Latino students,” Goodwin told OrangeCountyLawyers.com. “Since that time, the state has tried to endeavor in a variety of ways to increase the representation amongst categories of people of color who have been traditionally underrepresented.”
On June 29, 2023 the U.S. Supreme Court followed in the state of California’s footsteps when it overturned a 1978 high court landmark ruling that allowed colleges and universities to take into consideration a student’s race as part of their admissions policy.
“Will every system across the country be as committed to doing the kind of work California is trying to do? One would hope but we could also look for the answers in other ways to make a more equitable distribution of educational resources,” Goodwin said in an interview.
The first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attended Howard University School of Law in the 1930s after the University of Maryland School of Law rejected him because he was non-white.
“He argued 36 cases before the court and won 33 of those, which is a record unlike any other U.S. Supreme Court justice who has ever served but the way in which affirmative action has been interpreted of late is that non-white people are somehow overwhelming these institutions and thereby creating a disadvantage for people who are better qualified,” Goodwin added. “That’s just incorrect.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona argued that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling would set the country back decades by eliminating a tool colleges use to create diverse campuses.
“Students of color have long faced inequities in education and college access, and today’s ruling is yet another blow to the fight for equal opportunity,” he said in a statement. “Our efforts to promote diversity in higher education are undeterred. The Department of Education is a civil rights agency, committed to equal access and educational opportunity for all students.”
But U.S. Rep. Michele Steel (R-California), who served on the Orange County Board of Supervisors before being elected to Congress, cited the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a statement applauding the nation’s high court ruling.
“For 40 years, American colleges and universities have stacked the deck against Asian Americans in the name of diversity,” she said. “As a nation, we believe, as taught by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that every human should be judged ‘not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ Today’s victory marks a new chapter in the fight for equality in education.”
Juliette Fairley covers legal topics for various publications including the Southern California Record, the Epoch Times and Pacer Monitor-News. Prior to discovering she had an ease and facility for law, Juliette lived in Orange County and Los Angeles where she pursued acting in television and film.