Statement in Response to Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

June 29, 2023 Press Releases
billboard image Statement in Response to Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

John Palfrey reaffirms MacArthur’s unwavering commitment to pursuing racial and ethnic equity after the disappointing Supreme Court opinion on affirmative action.


Today's Supreme Court opinion limiting the use of race as part of a holistic assessment for university admissions under the Fourteenth Amendment is a disappointing setback in the pursuit of a fair, just, and inclusive society. We believe the Court’s decision risks impairing higher education’s purposes and vital societal roles. The Court’s legal conclusions cannot obscure the demonstrable benefits of diverse classrooms to student learning and to the preparation of leaders, innovators, and civic participants who build bridges across this multiracial, multiethnic nation. Study after study has shown the benefits of diversity across industries, intellectual fields, public and private organizations, and the work force. Affirmative action has played a crucial role in leveling the playing field for underrepresented groups, breaking down systemic barriers, and creating opportunities for individuals who have faced generations of discrimination and exclusion. 

While the decision addressing the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment does not directly affect the legal framework governing most grantmaking and investment activities of foundations, the rationale for the decision could have implications that will need to be better understood and may have a chilling effect on some organizations or embolden attacks against them. The MacArthur Foundation will not be deterred from continuing our mission of building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world through the lens of our Just Imperative which charges us to lead with a commitment to justice.

Our commitment to the pursuit of racial and ethnic equity in compliance with the law is unwavering. We will continue to work with our grantees, foundation peers, and philanthropic partners to ensure that justice is served. And we will provide resources for the communities we serve as they craft lawful approaches for their work in racial equity. Diversity across differences is a fundamental strength of our nation, as is the commitment to realizing the promise of opportunity for all. We will continue to work for a future that is fair, inclusive, and reflective of the richness of our diverse society, and that includes pursuit of racial and ethnic equity.

While the Supreme Court's opinion is disheartening, we are cognizant that progress towards racial equity is not linear. More work lies ahead. We will continue to fight for policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our society.