JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On the heels of the United States Supreme Court issuing two decisions declaring affirmative action policies unconstitutional, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey directed a letter to dozens of universities and municipalities across the state warning them to immediately end race-based affirmative action policies to ensure compliance with the Constitution and federal law.
The list of letter recipients includes the University of Missouri System, Missouri State University, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, and Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, among others.
Attorney General Bailey’s letter underscores that “In recent years, the Supreme Court has created confusion by acknowledging that racial classifications are presumptively unconstitutional while simultaneously upholding so-called ‘affirmative action’ college admission programs that systemically disfavor applicants because of race. Today’s Supreme Court decisions against Harvard and the University of North Carolina resolve this previous contradiction.”
The letter further advises that “These rulings make clear that disfavoring some applicants because of race is not only deeply unpopular; it is unconstitutional. As the Court put it today, ‘Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ ‘Many universities,’ the Court held, ‘have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.’
Today’s decision finally affirms the promise the Court made 70 years ago: The Constitution requires that ‘education … be made available to all on equal terms.’ Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954) (emphasis added). That means institutions subject to the U.S. Constitution or Title VI must immediately cease their practice of using race-based standards to make decisions about things like admissions, scholarships, programs, and employment. As Chief Justice Roberts put it years ago, ‘The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’”
The letter continues, “These decisions also make clear that the Constitution prohibits more than just overt discrimination in application processes. Also unlawful is adopting a policy that is racially neutral on its face but has the purpose and effect of disfavoring applicants based on race.”
Finally, Attorney General Bailey concludes that “In light of today’s twin rulings by the Supreme Court, Missouri institutions must identify all policies that give preference to individuals on the basis of race and immediately halt the implementation of such policies. More than 300,000 individuals currently attend institutions of higher education in Missouri. In addition, countless Missourians are employed at or will seek employment at institutions that have adopted affirmative action employment policies.”
“As the chief legal officer for the State of Missouri, I intend to ensure that the constitutional rights of all Missourians are protected, including those who would be harmed by race-based policies that are unlawful under the rulings issued today,” promised Attorney General Bailey.
The letter can be viewed here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2023-06-29-equal-protection-clause-letter.pdf?sfvrsn=7f1897e3_2