In a scorching dissent, Sotomayor says ‘the devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated.’

Sonia Sotomayor, one of the three liberal justices on the Supreme Court, said in her dissenting opinion on the Harvard case that the court turned its back on 45 years of jurisprudence aimed at promoting more inclusive and equal schools, and that “the devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated.”

“Today, this Court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress,” she wrote, adding that the decision “cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter.”

The decision, she wrote, “subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.”

Justice Sotomayor argued that the majority’s vision of race neutrality “will entrench racial segregation in higher education because racial inequality will persist so long as it is ignored.”

But despite her scathing language, Justice Sotomayor ended on a defiant note, writing that despite the court’s actions, “society’s progress toward equality cannot be permanently halted.”

“The pursuit of racial diversity will go on,” she wrote. “Although the Court has stripped out almost all uses of race in college admissions, universities can and should continue to use all available tools to meet society’s needs for diversity in education.”

Another of the liberal justices, Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote in her dissent that “it would be deeply unfortunate if the Equal Protection Clause actually demanded this perverse, ahistorical, and counterproductive outcome.”

“To impose this result in that Clause’s name when it requires no such thing, and to thereby obstruct our collective progress toward the full realization of the Clause’s promise, is truly a tragedy for us all,” she wrote.

Both Justice Sotomayor and Justice Jackson criticized the majority for making an exception for military academies. Justice Jackson wrote that the majority concluded that “racial diversity in higher education is only worth potentially preserving insofar as it might be needed to prepare Black Americans and other underrepresented minorities for success in the bunker, not the boardroom.”

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