The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling upholding the use of race in admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, in Grutter v. Bollinger. LDF represented student-intervenors in the undergraduate case, Gratz v. Bollinger.

The Supreme Court’s ruling today is a major victory. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund applauds the Court’s decision to uphold the use of race in admissions at the University of Michigan Law School. This is a victory, not only for the African-American and Latino students whom LDF represents, but also for the nation. By preserving affirmative action, this Court’s ruling advances the national consensus that colleges and universities should continue to assist in dismantling the present effects of this country’s past system of official apartheid. The Court today has acknowledged that this country still has a long way to go toward achieving racial equality and that colleges and universities must be able to rely on the modest consideration of race to advance that goal.

The High Court’s decision sends a clear signal not only that racial diversity is a core value of our democratic society but also that it is critical to the mission of institutions of higher education that are training this generation and the next generation of our country’s leaders. The message in the Court’s ruling is that race still matters, not necessarily because it should, but because it does. The decision also leaves open the possibility that race can still continue to be used in other sectors, including in corporate diversity policies, as well as in recruitment and orientation programs targeted at under-represented African-American, Latino, and Asian students.

We call upon colleges and universities to put in place affirmative action programs consistent with the Court’s guidelines. Now that the Court has affirmed the constitutionality of affirmative action, we also urge the opponents of affirmative action to turn their attention to enhancing the quality of K-12 education.