Law, Research, Politics & society, Berkeley Talks

Berkeley Talks: Legal scholars unpack Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action

By Public Affairs

Read the transcript.

Follow Berkeley Talks, a Berkeley News podcast that features lectures and conversations at UC Berkeley. See all Berkeley Talks.

three photos: one of a person speaking at a podium; one of a person smiling and wearing a hat; and one of a person speaking on stage
From left: Sheryll Cashin, professor of law at Georgetown Law School; john a. powell, director of UC Berkeleys Othering & Belonging Institute; and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law.
Photos by Howard County Library System, Brittany Hosea-Small and Sara Yogi

In Berkeley Talks episode 174, three leading legal scholars john a. powell, director of UC Berkeleys Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI); Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law; and Sheryll Cashin, professor of law at Georgetown Law School discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public and private universities cannot use race as a factor in admitting students. The court, with its conservative justices in the majority, ruled that such affirmative action violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, reversing decades of legal precedent.

In California, UC Berkeley and other public colleges and universities have been prohibited from considering race in admissions since 1996, when voters approved Proposition 209.

The Supreme Court ignores the tremendous difference between using race to harm minorities as opposed to using race to remedy past discrimination and enhance diversity, said Chemerinsky at the July 3 event, moderated by OBI Assistant Director Stephen Menendian. When John Roberts tries to invoke Brown v. Board of Education, he ignores that Brown was dealing with laws that mandated segregation. They were all about subordinating a racial minority as opposed to what Harvard and North Carolina were doing, which was about trying to remedy past discrimination.

Listen to the full conversation in Berkeley Talks episode 174: Legal scholars unpack Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action.

Watch a video of the discussion below.


On July 3, leading legal scholars john a. powell, director of UC Berkeleys Othering & Belonging Institute; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law; and Sheryll Cashin, professor of law at Georgetown Law School discussed the significance of the recent Supreme Court decision banning affirmative action at public and private universities.

Listen to other episodes of Berkeley Talks: