On Thursday, the Supreme Court released a major ruling on affirmative action, rejecting the use of race in college admissions.

The decision struck down race-conscious policies in two separate cases — Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College in a 6-2 ruling, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina in a 6-3 ruling.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in both decisions, with justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett in agreement.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case because of her affiliation with the school.

“The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause,” Roberts wrote, per CBS News.

“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. We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today.”

Affirmative Action in the balance

Still, universities can take into consideration “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise,” the opinion stated.

Both suits were brought forward by Students for Fair Admissions last October, and they alleged that the admissions process discriminated against white and Asian American applicants and gave preference to Black, Hispanic and Native American applicants.

Asian American Coalition’s Yukong Mike Zhao told reporters outside the Supreme Court that since the case was filed six months ago, nearly 360 organizations united behind Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff in both decisions. He called it a “historic win for Asians and all Americans.”

Although the ruling points to Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, the two oldest universities in the U.S., it will affect all colleges and universities in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.

Thomas wrote a concurrence where he clarified that the precedent set by the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger — which upheld the use of race in admissions — will be struck down.

“The Court’s opinion rightly makes clear that Grutter is, for all intents and purposes, overruled,” he wrote. “And, it sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes.”

As the University of North Carolina’s newspaper noted, nine states — including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington — have banned race-conscious admissions in recent years.

Brown Jackson wrote a dissenting opinion, saying that the Supreme Court’s decision will not end racism.

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“The best that can be said of the majority’s perspective is that it proceeds (ostrich-like) from the hope that preventing consideration of race will end racism,” she wrote. “But if that is its motivation, the majority proceeds in vain. If the colleges of this country are required to ignore a thing that matters, it will not just go away. It will take longer for racism to leave us.”

Harvard College said in a statement it will comply with the court’s decision while abiding by its values of pursuing “the high calling of educating creative thinkers and bold leaders, of deepening human knowledge, and of promoting progress, justice, and human flourishing.”

According to CNN, the University of North Carolina will also comply with the ruling.

Biden, Republican candidates for 2024 react to the ruling

President Joe Biden delivered remarks on the ruling hours after it was released.

“I believe our colleges are stronger when they’re racially diverse. Our nation is stronger, but because we are tapping into the full range of talent in this nation,” he said.

“We cannot let the decision be the last word,” Biden said.

His administration called on higher education institutions to “give serious consideration to the adversities students have overcome,” which includes a student’s means of finance and personal experiences of discrimination, as well as where they grew up and went to school, according to a White House press release.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates for 2024 applauded the ruling.

Here are statements from some of the candidates.

  • For starters, President Donald Trump, who is leading in the GOP primary polls, called it a “great day for America.”

“People with extraordinary ability and everything else necessary for success, including future greatness for our Country, are finally being rewarded,” he said on Truth Social.

“We’re going back to all merit-based—and that’s the way it should be!”

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also said that the admissions process should be based on merit, and not race or ethnicity.

“The Supreme Court has correctly upheld the Constitution and ended discrimination by colleges and universities,” he said.

  • Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said that the Supreme Court’s decision reaffirm’s American values of freedom and opportunity.

She added: “This decision will help every student—no matter their background—have a better opportunity to achieve the American dream.”

  • Vice President Mike Pence said he was pleased about the decision and said he was “honored to have played a role in appointing three of the Justices that ensured today’s welcomed decision.”

If elected, he said he will continue appointing “judges who will strictly apply the law rather than twisting it to serve woke and progressive ends,” he said on Twitter.

  • Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy in a statement said that he was glad that “the U.S. Supreme Court finally laid to rest one of the worst failed experiments in American history: affirmative action.”

He also made a promise: “If elected President, I have committed to repealing Lyndon Johnson’s ill-thought Executive Order 11246, which mandates that federal contractors—approximately 20% of the U.S. workforce—adopt race-based hiring preferences.”

  • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina also cheered it as a “good day” for the country as he told Fox News.

“Honestly, this is the day where we understand that being judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin is what our constitution wants. We are continuing to work on forming this more perfect union,” he said while looking back at the “palpable” progress over the decade