The U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down the use of race as a factor in college admissions drew cheers from New York Republicans who called it a step forward, while Democratic leaders raised deep concerns with the impact of the ruling.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said she was in contact with State University of New York Chancellor John King after the ruling was handed down, saying Thursday that the public higher education system "would be considering many factors" in admissions.
Hochul called the development "a dark day for democracy and equality."
"We are very disappointed in this decision, not unexpected given the political composition of the Supreme Court today," she said during a news conference in New York City. "But that being said, we go forth to ensure New York remains a place where we celebrate diversity, inclusion, and we're going to continue to subscribe to those principles regardless of the decisions made by the Supreme Court of the United States."
In a separate statement, King called the ruling "egregious" and a backwards move for Black and Latino groups who remain underrepresented on campuses.
“On behalf of the students we serve; the faculty and staff who make SUNY a place of excellence; and the communities and employers that rely on SUNY’s diversity for their own success, we know that no court ruling – however misguided – can shake our understanding that our pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion, within the law, will always be integral to ensuring that SUNY is the best public system of higher education in the country," he said.
New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox, however, was heartened by the ruling. In a statement, Cox pointed to the effect the end of affirmative action would have for Asian American students seeking admission to higher education institutions.
"De facto race quotas at our nation’s elite institutions have been a roadblock on the path to the American Dream for many Americans, especially Asian Americans," Cox said. “Today’s decision takes us a big step closer to an America in which citizens are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
How colleges and universities will address the ruling remains to be seen. The New York Bar Association announced it will assess how campuses can maintain diversity in the wake of the ruling.
“Businesses – including law firms – are worried about the legitimacy of corporate diversity initiatives. This could also impact governmental programs that require quotas such as minority business enterprise requirements,” Bar Association President Richard Lewis said. “We want to prepare our members, clients and lawyers throughout the state and nation for any eventuality.”