June 29th, 2023

Washington, D.C. — The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) on June 29, 2023 that affirmative action programs violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Today’s Supreme Court decision is a stark reminder of the challenges communities of color face, and highlights the need for continued advocacy to ensure educational opportunity and racial equity. Since its inception, affirmative action has empowered students of color to speak up and share their stories as they seek a brighter future through education and career opportunities. This, in turn, helps build inclusive and thriving communities of students and workers. Despite the outcome of today’s ruling, NCAPA remains committed to supporting affirmative action.

“Affirmative action honors the diversity and cultural histories of the AANHPI community. Without it, we all stand to lose,” said Gregg Orton, National Director of NCAPA. “The Supreme Court’s decision to undo decades of progress comes at a time when communities of color are increasingly under attack. While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, we will continue fighting for a fair and equitable education for all students.”

Quyên Đinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), said:

“We unequivocally condemn this decision, which ignores the systemic and racially disparate barriers to education access that have historically blocked pathways to upward economic mobility for communities of color, including Southeast Asian American communities. While the ruling is a setback to ensuring educational opportunity for all students, we are resolved to continue fighting for a future where every individual, regardless of their life circumstances, can thrive and succeed.”

Estella Owoimaha-Church, Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), said:

“There is no alternative to affirmative action or race-conscious admissions for marginalized communities of color, including Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities. This decision will exacerbate structural inequities that persist for Pasifika youth. We continue to move in solidarity alongside our partners to ensure all students have access to inclusive history, culturally responsive learning environments, and diverse books. Our stories matter and deserve to be heard. Each of us has a role to play in cultivating clear paths for emerging leaders so they might forge futures once denied to our elders and ancestors.”

John C. Yang, President & Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian American Justice Center (Advancing Justice – AAJC), stated:

“We are outraged that the Supreme Court has chosen to support racial inequity that harms Asian Americans and all people of color. But we are more committed than ever to ensuring equal opportunity for our children – and for all children in this country. We will not let this court decision keep us from pushing colleges and universities, Congress, and others to keep today’s ruling from undermining the progress made toward educating future multiracial, talented leaders who deserve every opportunity to reach their highest potential on campuses that reflect the diversity of America.”

Vimala Phongsavanh, Board Chair of the Laotian American National Alliance (LANA), said:

“LANA continues to support what affirmative action stands for: educational equity that enables aspiring students of color to achieve in higher education and in the pursuit of their careers. Lao American students are already three times more likely not to have earned their high school diplomas, when compared with white students; undoing any progress for the AANHPI communities and the communities with which we stand in solidarity only sets us all back further.”

Julie Ajinkya, Chief Strategy Officer and SVP of Research and Applied Partnerships at Asian Pacific American Islanders Scholars (APIA Scholars), commented:

“APIA Scholars is an organization that supports diversity, equity and inclusion and we decry the Supreme Court’s decision today to repeal affirmative action. Numerous studies on affirmative action bans have demonstrated that the result is an immediate and long-term decrease in diversity and representation and prevents equitable access to opportunities for students. As an organization that is founded on increasing diversity and access to educational opportunities, we support affirmative action, we defend diversity and we affirm inclusivity. We do not support policies that result in the opposite outcome or any rhetoric that undermines racial equity and justice. In our survey that went out to about 22,000 high school seniors, college students and recent grads, 80% of our respondents approve of affirmative action. We believe race is part of a person’s identity and should be one of the factors that should be considered in a holistic admissions evaluation so that more students can receive a fair chance.”

Jeffrey B. Caballero, Executive Director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), said:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision to dismantle affirmative action will decimate the pipeline for communities of color interested in entering the medical profession and exacerbate the health and mental workforce shortage throughout the nation. Affirmative action and race-conscious admissions policies have been critical to ensuring that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have a fair chance to pursue higher education. AAPCHO and our community health center members decry this decision, but we will continue to pursue equitable education policies that lead to a health care system that reflects the communities we serve.”

Juliet K. Choi, President & CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), said:

“The Court has long held that affirmative action is vital to advancing diversity and ensuring our graduates are prepared for our multiracial workforce and society. This decision has implications not only for undergraduate admissions but also for graduate-level admissions, including medical and nursing school. Our communities’ health does best when medical professionals are more likely to understand our experiences. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders continue to be grossly underrepresented in the medical profession, and health equity is further compromised by this decision – particularly in the shadow of the impact of COVID-19 on NHPI communities, which had one of the highest per capita death rates in our nation.”

Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIA Vote), responded:

“Nearly 70 percent of Asian Americans support affirmative action, according to our 2022 Asian American Voter Survey. This decision is another unfortunate example of our Supreme Court ignoring long-held precedent, and goes against what the vast majority of our communities believe. It is disappointing Asian Americans have been used as a wedge in this debate, instead of bringing all Americans together to transparently discuss the merits of affirmative action.”

David Inoue, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), stated:

“The court’s dismantling of affirmative action has been done under the presumption that equal opportunity exists for all. We know this to be false both historically and in the present. The elimination of race consciousness in college admissions and employment decisions does nothing to promote equal opportunity. It will instead cover up the incredible diversity that makes this country stronger.”

Isra Pananon Weeks, Interim Executive Director & Chief of Staff of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), commented:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action is an attack on racial justice. Every student deserves access to quality higher education and affirmative action supports equal opportunity and social justice for everyone. A majority of AAPIs support affirmative action yet opponents are quick to use AAPIs as a wedge in the affirmative action debate. These arguments promote the ‘model minority’ myth, the inaccurate and dangerous stereotype that AAPIs have socioeconomic stability and do not face inequities based on their race, a narrative that obscures the vast differences within the AAPI community. It also aims to create a divide between AAPIs and other communities of color when in reality, pervasive racism and discrimination harm all people of color.”

Seema Agnani, CEO of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), stated:

“Affirmative action continues to be a vital pathway for low-income communities of color to access educational opportunities that have been historically denied to them by systemic barriers and discrimination. Increased educational opportunities lead to better outcomes for students, families, and communities, and affirmative action is thus an important strategy in the work to close the racial wealth gap. National CAPACD supports affirmative action and underscores the importance of inclusive academic spaces that reflect the diversity of this country.”

Mariela Fletcher, National President of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), stated:

“NaFFAA is deeply concerned and stands in solidarity with many in our community impacted by today’s decision issued by SCOTUS to strike down race-conscious admissions and deem it unconstitutional. The Asian American community is not a monolith and many within our own Filipino community will be impacted by this decision. Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian groups are underrepresented in higher education as the cases of discrimination and inequality hindering our community’s progress continues. Measures like Affirmative Action were set in place to address the divide created by previous cases of discrimination within our country’s history. By eliminating race as a factor, Filipino Americans’, along with all other underrepresented communities’, access to opportunities granted by higher education is significantly decreased, and therefore representation, classroom diversity, and socioeconomic mobility decreases.”

Becky Belcore, Co-Director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), responded:

“We condemn the Supreme Court decision as wrong and alarmingly destabilizing to democracy. Affirmative action policies recognize the historical and present-day exclusion faced by marginalized communities – including Asian Americans – and the impacts of such exclusion, and level the playing field so that every aspiring student has opportunities in education. In ruling race-conscious admissions as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court continues its recent pattern of weakening key civil rights policies.”

Kenrick Ross, Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), stated:

“We are deeply disappointed, but unsurprised, by this morning’s decision. The Supreme Court once more invited, entertained, and sided with a deeply flawed narrative grounded in increasingly successful efforts to not only resist but reverse attempts to address the moral and material harms of white supremacy and institutional racism.”

Thu Nguyen, Executive Director of OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, said:

“The Supreme Court has chosen to ignore the reality of persistent racial discrimination and inequality in our country, and has undermined the efforts of educators and advocates to create more equitable and diverse learning environments. The ability to have a fair chance to pursue higher education in the United States is the embodiment of the American Dream. We will continue to support affirmative action policies that foster educational opportunity and access for all students, especially those from historically underrepresented and marginalized communities.”

Samira Khan, President of the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA), commented:

“SAPHA firmly believes that affirmative action is vital for addressing historical disparities, dismantling structural inequities and enabling marginalized students–including South Asian students–to thrive in academic settings by creating inclusive educational environments that reflect the diverse fabric of our society. The Supreme Court ruling undermines our collective efforts to create a more just and equitable society. While we are disappointed with this ruling, we remain steadfast in our efforts to advocate for inclusive and equitable policies.”

Anisha Singh, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition, stated:

“Inclusive education and representation for our communities isn’t just about what’s on the curriculum—it matters who is in the classroom to begin with. For decades, affirmative action has been an essential tool to ensuring that students from all communities have access to higher education. This ruling is a step backwards.”

Kiran Kaur Gill, Executive Director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), said:

“SALDEF is deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision on Affirmative Action today. It is a major setback for equity, diversity and opportunity for marginalized communities of color.”

Sandra Engle, Interim Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) said:

“Affirmative action is critical to ensuring equal access and economic empowerment of AAPI communities and all marginalized communities. The Supreme Court decision to tear down this cornerstone of racial justice is a shameful assault on workers and social mobility. We will continue to fight alongside our Black and brown siblings to tear down racist and oppressive barriers, but we are saddened by today’s change that hinders our movement.”

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council ofAsian Pacific Americans is a coalition of forty-six national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.