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Supreme Court Rulings Threaten Diversity in Higher Education, Deny Student Debt Relief, and Put Communities at Risk

MORRISVILLE, NC (07/03/2023) — In a series of landmark decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court voted last week to significantly curtail affirmative action in higher education – ruling that race-based admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution – as well as strike down President Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt owed to the federal government.

The rulings in the UNC and Harvard cases are expected to have far-reaching implications for admissions of Black, Latine, and Indigenous students at top universities across the country, undermining decades of progress in creating diverse and inclusive campuses. Meanwhile, the conclusion that the President could not use emergency “waiver” powers tied to the COVID-19 pandemic to implement massive debt forgiveness will likewise have direct and widespread impacts on these very same communities.

Cheryl Carter, Co-Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina, expressed deep concern over the rulings, in addition to the court’s First Amendment ruling that will limit protections for the LGTBQIA+ community – on the last day of Pride month, no less.

“These decisions are a reminder of how this land was stolen and a group of people were stolen from their homeland to build the wealth of this country on their backs; that debt and free labor have yet to be repaid; and the harm has not been repaired,” Carter said. “And when we are further reminded of more than 400 years of inequity, inequality, and oppressive systems which continue to be perpetuated throughout every institution and structure of our society, these rulings are even more of a gut punch – infuriating and devastating.

“Tomorrow, July 4th, this country is celebrating a day where the ancestors of many Americans were not free or independent. These rulings serve as new means to shackle our most marginalized communities – those who’ve been denied, time and again, the so-called American Dream. How is this justice for all? The words of Langston Hughes ring even truer today: ‘Freedom / Is a strong seed / Planted / In a great need. / I live here, too. / I want freedom / Just as you.’ We will continue to strive for the America we seek, the America that’s been promised to us all. Together we will rise, we will fight, and we will win.”


Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to strengthen democratic structures, build power among disenfranchised communities, and inspire confidence in a transformed political process that works for all. Learn more at