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Devastating Ruling from Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action

Date: Jun 29 2023

Contact: Media Relations

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

"APHA is incredibly disappointed with today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down 40 years of precedent supporting race conscious admissions to institutions of higher education.

Colleges and universities across the country agree that a student’s grades and test scores alone are insufficient to select a student body that aligns with their educational goals and missions and that adequately represents the diverse U.S. population these professionals will serve. It is well documented that race and ethnicity play a major part in the identities and choices of applicants and institutions of higher education should be allowed to include considerations about race and ethnicity in their admissions process.

For years the court understood the importance of institutions of higher education creating diverse student communities. This holds especially true when we consider the history of racist policies that severely limited or completely denied students of color access to higher education before affirmative action.

Without affirmative action, we risk turning the clock back on years of progress that have led to improved outcomes and a more diverse public health and health care workforce.

Affirmative action policies and programs have directly resulted in the diversification of the public health and health care workforce, with more practitioners of color working directly in communities that suffer some of the worst health disparities and outcomes. With a more diverse public health and health care workforce, we can address and redress years of systemic racism that has sustained poorer health outcomes for our communities of color.

Countless studies confirm that diversity in the health care and public health workforce is critical to addressing health disparities, improving cultural competency, building trust and promoting equity. Public health professionals and physicians that bring different perspectives and experiences to their work and patients can better address socio-cultural factors that influence health and access to care. To not consider an applicant’s full background, especially as underrepresentation of certain minority groups in health professions remains an enduring problem, will ultimately lead to lower minority enrollment and worse overall national health.

APHA, the Association of American Medical Colleges and 44 other health care organizations jointly submitted a brief to the court in support of the need to maintain race conscious admissions and we’ll continue to advocate for actions to improve racial equity."


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at