Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. joined leftists by defending affirmative action after the race-based admissions policies were struck down by the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The high court ruled Thursday that the race-based admissions programs at Harvard violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Kennedy’s defense of the struck-down programs met swift backlash from commentators and a presidential candidate who have long argued that the policies are racist and harm those they purport to help.
“Regarding the Supreme Court banning affirmative action in higher ed — I know many Americans feel that purely race-based decisions are unfair. However, this feeling misses important context. The effects of racist policies going back centuries are now self-perpetuating,” Kennedy tweeted Thursday. “Affirmative action understands this and uses race-based policies to undo the effects of racist policies.”
Kennedy then criticized admissions policies that are “color-blind,” claiming they boost those who come from privileged backgrounds above minorities.
“‘Color-blind’ admissions tend to favor those who are already in the circle of privilege,” the Democrat said. “It favors those who grew up in affluent, educated households. Wouldn’t you like to invite in those who have been left out in the cold?”
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy blasted Kennedy’s support of race-based admissions and argued for a “colorblind meritocracy.”
“I strongly disagree with [Robert Kennedy Jr.] that affirmative action is about ‘letting in those who have been left out in the cold.’ That’s wrong,” Ramaswamy said. “The majority of black students at Harvard are not descendants of slaves but descendants of immigrants. Giving special preferences to someone who *looks like* a person who once suffered is not justice. We should finally embrace colorblind meritocracy in America rather than to repeat our past mistakes.”
I strongly disagree with @RobertKennedyJr that affirmative action is about “letting in those who have been left out in the cold.” That’s wrong. The majority of black students at Harvard are not descendants of slaves but descendants of immigrants. Giving special preferences to… https://t.co/OkrgxzGXay
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) June 29, 2023
Conservative commentator Dave Rubin responded to Kennedy, tweeting, “Respectfully Robert, and maybe this is why you’re still a Democrat, but you don’t solve past racism with current racism. Why would you want a second generation Asian kid who busts his ass, whose parents came here with nothing and worked hard to be discriminated against?”
In a follow-up tweet, Rubin added, “Many been asking what makes [Kennedy] a Democrat. I guess we got our answer unfortunately…”
Radio host Kim Iversen, who was formerly a co-host on The Hill’s “The Rising” podcast, also responded to Kennedy’s tweet.
“It was not ok to claim Jewish applicants were ‘deficient in character’ in order to ensure only few of them could get in to make way for others,” Iversen said. “It is also not ok to claim Asian students are ‘deficient in character’ in order to ensure only few of them can get in to make way for others. This ruling today ended racism and it was a win for us all.”