Jun 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump, DeSantis praise Supreme Court affirmative action ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court is shown at dusk on June 28, 2023 in Washington, DC

The U.S. Supreme Court at dusk on June 28, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The top contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination lauded the Supreme Court's landmark decision on Thursday overturning affirmative action in college admissions.

The big picture: Debates around education and race have become cornerstones of many Republicans' campaign platforms as figures on the right have embraced culture wars ahead of the next election.

Driving the news: The court ruled 6-3 against the admissions processes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, both of which give a little extra weight to applicants from certain underrepresented groups.

What GOP presidential candidates are saying

Former President Trump, who is the current frontrunner in the crowded 2024 Republican primary, hailed the decision on his Truth Social account.

  • "People with extraordinary ability and everything else necessary for success, including future greatness for our Country, are finally being rewarded," he wrote.
  • "We’re going back to all merit-based—and that’s the way it should be!"

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another top contender, wrote in a tweet that "college admissions should be based on merit and applicants should not be judged on their race or ethnicity."

  • "The Supreme Court has correctly upheld the Constitution and ended discrimination by colleges and universities," he added.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement: "The world admires America because we value freedom and opportunity. The Supreme Court reaffirmed those values today."

  • "Picking winners and losers based on race is fundamentally wrong. This decision will help every student—no matter their background—have a better opportunity to achieve the American dream."

Former Vice President Mike Pence touted the Supreme Court for putting "an end to this egregious violation of civil and constitutional rights in admissions processes, which only served to perpetuate racism."

Vivek Ramaswamy, an outspoken critic of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, said affirmative action is "one of the worst failed experiments in American history."

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said that it was "a good day for America" during an interview on Fox News shortly after the ruling.

  • "This is a day where we understand that being judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin, is what our constitution wants," he said.

What the RNC is saying

In a statement, the Republican National Committee said the party supports "parents, students, and merit-based admissions that help kids achieve their potential."

  • "Discriminating against any student based on their race causes irreparable harm to families trying to achieve the American Dream, and we applaud today’s decision," the statement added.

Where the candidates disagree

The DeSantis campaign used the ruling take a dig at Trump, tweeting a video clip of the former president telling NBC News that he was "fine with affirmative action" in 2015.

  • "Sad day for affirmative-action advocates," the DeSantis War Room account tweeted.

Go deeper: Colleges brace for the end of affirmative action

Go deeper