Mike Pence says the time for affirmative action 'is over'

 July 3, 2023

Mike Pence defended the Supreme Court's ruling ending affirmative action in a contentious interview Sunday, saying the time for racially based college admissions is "over." 

Liberal news anchor Jonathan Karl of ABC began by asking whether it's a "problem" that fewer black and Hispanic kids will attend elite colleges without having seats reserved for them.

While there "was a time" for affirmative action, "those days are over," Pence said.

"And I really believe that the decision by the Supreme Court today was an acknowledgement of the incredible progress that minority Americans have made, their extraordinary educational achievements," he said.

Mike Pence reacts

Karl continued to press Pence on the "concern" that the racial composition of elite schools will change, but Pence said he's "confident" that blacks and Hispanics will succeed on merit alone.

"I’m just – I’m just very confident that African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other minorities are going to be able to compete and succeed," he said.

The court's majority ruled that anti-white and anti-Asian affirmative action policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause and the nation's "colorblind" ideals.

The Supreme Court cited the indefinite duration of affirmative action as one reason for striking it down. Pence echoed those concerns, pointing to a 2003 opinion in which the court upheld affirmative action with the understanding that it would eventually be phased out.

"You know, it was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who more than 20 years ago, said that she thought affirmative action would go away in 25 years, it went away a little sooner than that. And I think that’s a tribute to our minority students," Pence said.

How long?

The dissenting justices in Thursday's ruling did not directly address the question of how long affirmative action should last.

But they said the impact of ending it will be "devastating," even as they claimed that race was only being used in a "limited" or "holistic" way in college admissions.

Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was explicitly chosen for her role because of her race, called the court's ruling a "tragedy for us all."

But the nation views things differently: a poll by ABC News found that 52 percent of Americans agreed with the court's decision ending affirmative action.

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