- Following Thursday’s United States Supreme Court ruling that saw affirmative action measures struck down in universities across the nation, Florida political leaders were quick to respond with statements of support or opposition.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott, and U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds supported the court’s ruling.
- State Sen. Shevrin Jones and Rep. Daryl Campbell both took stances against the strikedown, referring to it as an attack on diversity.
In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court struck down affirmative action measures on Thursday morning, igniting debate among Florida’s political leaders. The ruling, which has far-reaching implications for college admissions and diversity efforts across the nation, has sparked a range of responses from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
In 1999, then-Governor Jeb Bush issued an executive order known as One Florida Initiative. This order aimed to overhaul the state’s affirmative action policies in government contracting, university admissions, and state employment. Under the executive order, the use of racial and gender preferences in state contracts and university admissions was prohibited. Mirroring contemporary arguments against the policy, Bush asserted that affirmative action policies had become divisive and that it was necessary to focus on promoting equal opportunities “based on merit, rather than considering race or gender as factors for preferences.”
Statewide supporters of affirmative action argue that it helps to correct systemic inequalities and promotes diversity, which benefits society as a whole, referring to its use as a necessary means to level the educational playing field and ensure that individuals from historically disadvantaged groups have equal access to opportunities. Meanwhile, those that celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling — including Gov. Ron DeSantis — argue that it can lead to reverse discrimination, where individuals from non-targeted groups may face disadvantages in employment or education.
Gov. Ron DeSantis:
“College admissions should be based on merit and applicants should not be judged on their race or ethnicity,” said the governor. “The Supreme Court has correctly upheld the Constitution and ended discrimination by colleges and universities.”
Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones:
“For decades, affirmative action has opened up doors of opportunities for students across the country,” said Jones, who holds a background in education. “There is no denying that the playing field is unlevel, and that for too many, hard work is not enough to get a seat at the table. Today’s SCOTUS decision reminds us all that there remains significant work ahead if we are to live up to the values of fairness and equality for all.”
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision was the right one for our nation and should have been 9-0. Any discrimination on the basis of race is wrong and flat-out unconstitutional,” said Scott. “The failed experiment of affirmative action had the inverse of its intended effect of equal opportunity. For decades, this failed policy did nothing but pick and choose students based upon their race to fit a specific quota, disenfranchising others in the process. Absolutely no person should be judged on anything but their merits, the content of their character and qualifications – that’s what we should stand for as a free and great nation: not giving a damn what anyone’s skin color is.”
U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds:
“Today’s ruling is a massive win against the left’s equity agenda that seeks to achieve “equality” through equal outcomes, not equal access,” said Donalds, a one-time supporter of affirmative action. “There was clearly a time when affirmative action was needed to end racial discrimination, but that time is over.”
Florida Rep. Daryl Campbell:
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the recent Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action. Attacks against diversity are not new in our country nor in Florida as we come off the heels of a legislative session where DEI was outright banned in the university school system.,” said Campbell. “The victims of this decision will be aspirational young black and brown students across the country who, before affirmative action, were routinely shut out of higher education.”