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Ending Affirmative Action Will Not Bring Fairness in Mississippi’s Higher Education

On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States made a decision that will upend the college-admissions process forever: They dismantled affirmative action.

In the case of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, SFFA alleged that Harvard’s use of Affirmative Action discriminated against Asian applicants, thus violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

In light of this decision, Gov. Tate Reeves responded, “We will enthusiastically work to ensure that our universities across the state comply with both the letter and spirit of this decision. Our academic institutions will be stronger and more fair because of it.”

But will our academic institution be “stronger and more fair” without affirmative action? I doubt that. If anything, this decision will make admissions more backward—especially in Mississippi.

What Is Affirmative Action?

To those who don’t know what affirmative action is, here’s a brief history:

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 to ensure equal opportunity in government positions. He ordered that government contractors should “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”

Four years later, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson expanded this idea by issuing Executive Order 11246, which prohibited employers from discriminating based on race, color and religion. This Executive Order also required federal contractors to “take affirmative action to promote the full realization of equal opportunity for women and minorities.” Below is an excerpt of this order, Part II, Subpart B, Sec. 202(1):

“The contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color,

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