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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently said she supports affirmative action in higher education because she believes that alternatives based on income or residency simply will not work to ensure diversity in schools. As the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor greatly defends affirmative action because it was this race-conscious program that opened up the prestigious world of Ivy Leagues to minorities, allowing her to go from Bronx housing projects to Princeton and Yale Law School.

Must Read: Does Race-Based Affirmative Action Work?

Sotomayor said, “A place like Princeton could fill their entire beginning freshman class with students who have scored perfectly on undergraduate metrics,” but it chooses not to do so because it would not create a diverse class based on standards the school considers important for success. Are they serious? That’s exactly what it would do! Affirmative action has been under attack for decades. In fact, many critics of the program claim that it is indeed a form of racial discrimination. When you look at it from our side, it’s a form of inclusion.

George Stephanopoulos asked Sotomayor on ABC’s “This Week,” about programs that might increase diversity in higher education that would be “less fractious” than the use of race. Sotomayor said that other programs have not proven to be as successful in diversifying student bodies. Sotomayor mentioned the legacy programs that many schools honor, which allow you to have a slight advantage over the competition if your family member had been to that school. You don’t see anyone waving flags and protesting against that type of favoritism. And this is a program that certainly doesn’t increase diversity. Legacies are typically the majority.

Sotomayo’s view is that racial and ethnic quotas have helped to diversify the nation’s colleges and universities and she’d like to be the champion to keep programs like affirmative action going strong. She wrote the dissenting opinion in April in a 6-2 decision that upheld a state’s right to outlaw the use of race in determining admissions. I had been admitted to the Ivy League through a special door,” she wrote in her best-selling memoir, “My Beloved World.” For years, she wrote, “I lived the day-to-day reality of affirmative action.”

Thanks Justice Sotomayor, for continuing to be a champion for people of color.


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