Last week, the Supreme Court struck down race as a factor in college admissions, ending decades of affirmative action programs universities have used to select their incoming students.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the ruling opinion, said that Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill admissions programs violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Affirmative action policies were broadly introduced in the 1960’s ensuring equal opportunity and preventing discrimination based on sex, gender, race, national origin, religion or disability.

Here’s what this means for the future of Latino students.

A court divided, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor describing these actions as a “devastating impact”

During the decision, Roberts shared the ruling opinion, citing both higher learning institutions.

“Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points,” Roberts wrote for the majority.

“We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today,” he continued. “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court, gave a powerful dissent.

“This Court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress,” Sotomayor said in her dissent.

“The Court’s opinion circumscribes universities’ ability to consider race in any form by meticulously gutting respondents’ asserted diversity interests,” she continued.

“Yet, because the Court cannot escape the inevitable truth that race matters in students’ lives, it announces a false promise to save face and appear attuned to reality. No one is fooled.” 

In the past, Sotomayor acknowledged that affirmative action played a role in her college and law school admissions.

The end of affirmative action will have a tremendous impact on Latino students, including decreased college enrollment

According to a U.S. Census study, one in four U.S. children is Latino, by 2030 Latinos will be nearly one-third of the nation’s K-12 students. Consequently, this makes Latinos the country’s largest racial and ethnic group. 

Affirmative action policies previously increased college diversity across the United States. Their removal could have detrimental effects on Latino students, as it did before its implementation. Statistics show that in 1970 white students made up 91% of the student population at colleges. Meanwhile, in 2020, this number dropped to 50%, with Black students accounting for 12% of college enrollments and Latinos at 20%.

With the new ruling, Latino student enrollment will decrease. States that previously banned race-conscious admissions saw a sharp drop in Latino students. Additionally, polls show nearly 68% of Latinos supported affirmative action programs.

Many people on social media expressed their frustrations. On Twitter, a previous college student said she was a proud product of affirmative action.

Others voiced their opinions in a peaceful protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Students held signs saying, “Our diversity is our strength. Diversity is our power” and “Defend diversity.”