New York County Lawyers Association States Gap in Health, Wealth and Education Supports Continued Need for Affirmative Action


New York County Lawyers Association States Gap in Health, Wealth and Education Supports Continued Need for Affirmative Action

Statements & Letters
Written by: NYCLA Officers
Published On: Jun 29, 2023

The New York County Lawyers Association Officers today issued this statement:

We are disappointed, but unsurprised, that the Supreme Court has chosen today to make affirmative action in college admissions unconstitutional.  Our nation’s history of racial discrimination is probably our darkest blot.   We are dismayed at the recent SCOTUS decision in that it rolls back decades of precedent and progress.

250 years of slavery from colonial times through the Civil War, followed by 100 years of Jim Crow, constitutes seven-eighths of our history on the North American continent.  The past roughly 50 years, in which we practiced “soft” affirmative action, eschewing rigid quotas but allowing race to be taken into account in college admissions and elsewhere, has proven insufficient to enable Blacks and other racial minorities to achieve full equality.  One needs only look to gaps in health, wealth, education, and other hard data to know that, while we may be moving in the right direction, progress is slow and full equality has not yet been achieved.  Indeed, the historic participation of our own federal government in things like real estate redlining by housing finance agencies, and even passage of New Deal legislation such as Social Security which initially excluded domestic and agricultural workers, designed by Southern Democrats to exclude Blacks, show that we still have much to atone for.

Affirmative action in higher education and elsewhere was an attempt to right these historic harms.  For the past 50 years the Supreme Court permitted it.  Now it has ruled it unconstitutional.  The Court’s ruling is broad enough that it sweeps in private (Harvard) as well as public (UNC) institutions, and also raises serious questions about the constitutionality of various kinds of diversity initiatives engaged in by public and private employers and others.

We fully appreciate that affirmative action is an imperfect solution to the historic harms of racial discrimination. We look forward to a day where affirmative action is unnecessary.  But we believe that day has not yet come. The Supreme Court has disagreed.

In short, like Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson, we dissent.


About the New York County Lawyers Association

The New York County Lawyers Association ( was founded in 1908 as one of the first major bar associations in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender, and has a long history of supporting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Since its inception, NYCLA has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence. For more information on NYCLA please visit