Across the country, Democrats reacted swiftly — and angrily– to Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s race-based admissions systems. Justices found they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Writing for the six-member majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted race was the determinative factor for a “significant percentage” of Black and Hispanic applicants accepted by Harvard, with a similar admissions process used at UNC. Under its affirmative-action system, well-qualified Black applicants were 4 to 10 times as likely to be admitted to Harvard than similarly qualified Asian Americans, Roberts noted.
Roberts’ famous adage is, “The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” The majority of the court embraced that view. Many Democrats disagree, however, arguing the only way to treat people fairly is to give preferential treatment to some.
“California Democrats Blast Supreme Court” was the headline in Sacramento.
In Philadelphia, Democratic lawmakers held a press conference linking the court’s ruling to “Jim Crow terror and segregation.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said via Twitter that the “extremist” Supreme Court “rolled back the march toward racial justice.”
(Warren, who used a false claim of Native American heritage in her application to join the Harvard faculty and was forced to apologize to the Native American community, might not be the best spokesperson on this issue.)
But in New Hampshire?
All four members of the state’s federal delegation refused to respond to repeated questions about the ruling. None of them mentioned it in public comments or on social media.
Even the usually bellicose Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, was quiet. Neither he nor the state party released a statement, though Buckley did re-tweet a quote from Justice Sonja Sotomayor’s dissent.
Why are Granite State Democrats so silent on an issue so important to the party’s base?
Perhaps it is because New Hampshire is one of eight states that have already banned race-based preferences in state college admissions, hiring, etc. The deep-blue West Coast strongholds of California and Washington are included on that list, where voters passed referenda banning race-based admissions policies.
“New Hampshire banned affirmative action in higher education over a decade ago, and I am glad to see the Supreme Court follow our lead,” Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted Thursday.
New Hamshire is the only state where the legislature passed the ban, with a 219-79 majority in the House and a voice vote in the Senate. Former Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, declined to veto the bill and instead let it become law without his signature.
“Everyone engaged in racial discrimination – admissions officers at Harvard, Rhode Island Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse as a member of a Whites-only beach club, and Americans a hundred years ago donning white sheets – sincerely believe they do so for the best of reasons,” said Bill O’Brien, who served as Speaker of the House when the state’s ban on affirmative action was passed.
“Since the Civil War, however, Republicans have strongly argued that racial discrimination is always wrong and that laws and government-financed activities should be colorblind. Sixteen years ago, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the ‘way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’ Now the Supreme Court agrees. All of us should agree. Let’s stop government-financed racial discrimination.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan declined to respond to questions from NHJournal about the ruling and her stance on racial preference policies. Hassan was elected governor just a year after the state’s affirmative action ban took effect. During her four years in office, Democrats controlled the state House of Representatives from 2013-2015. And yet Hassan never attempted to overturn the affirmative action ban, and the Democrat-led House never took a vote to repeal it.
Do Democrats like Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen support New Hampshire’s ban and the Supreme Court’s ruling extending it to colleges across the U.S.? Maybe. Or they could be reacting to polls showing voters oppose racial favoritism in college admissions?
For example, a new YouGov poll found nearly two-thirds of American adults believe colleges and universities should not consider race at all in admissions decisions. And a recent Pew Research Center poll found 50 percent of Americans oppose race-based admissions, while just 33 percent approve.
Not surprisingly, Republicans running for president endorsed the Supreme Court ruling.
“This was a great ruling today by the Supreme Court,” former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Thursday’s NHJournal podcast. Recounting her experience growing up as an Indian-American in rural South Carolina and going on to become governor, Haley objected to the premise of race-based preferences.
“If ever there was a time that we need to acknowledge how far we’ve come, it’s now,” Haley said. “We don’t need to treat minorities like they’re different or not capable… We’re very capable.
“Give minorities the opportunity to prove themselves in a fair, equal environment, and everyone will prosper,” Haley added.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted, “College admissions should be based on merit, and applicants should not be judged on their race or ethnicity. The Supreme Court has correctly upheld the Constitution and ended discrimination by colleges and universities.”
And former President Donald Trump, who is leading the GOP field, posted on Truth Social. “This is the ruling everyone was waiting and hoping for, and the result was amazing. It will also keep us competitive with the rest of the world. Our greatest minds must be cherished, and that’s what this wonderful day has brought. We’re going back to all merit-based—and that’s the way it should be!”
President Joe Biden has pledged to push back on the court ruling, though it’s unclear what he can do now that racial preferences have been declared unconstitutional.
“We cannot let this decision be the last word,” Biden said in a White House address. “The court can render a decision, but it cannot change what America stands for.”
Do Democrats like Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas agree that “America stands for” rejecting Asian-American college applicants from elite schools based on their race?
Polls show Americans don’t agree. What will New Hampshire Democrats do now?