The Hill’s Morning Report — Affirmative action ruling triggers frenzy; student loans up next

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
<em><strong>Editor’s note: The Hill’s Morning Report is our daily newsletter that dives deep into Washington’s agenda. To subscribe, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:click here;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">click here</a> or fill out the box below.</strong></em>

Thank you for signing up!

Subscribe to more newsletters here

The latest in politics and policy. Direct to your inbox. Sign up for the Morning Report newsletter

A conservative majority on the Supreme Court blasted through decades of precedent Thursday to put an end to affirmative action in university admissions and is expected today to conclude the term by blocking President Biden’s program to forgive student loan debts.

Since last year, right-leaning justices have issued constitutional reinterpretations that are reshaping cultural, privacy and economic aspects of American life, including overturning Roe v. Wade a year ago. They are clashing with liberals over racism, equality and religion.

The impacts will be felt for decades, reinforcing the contemporary image of the Supreme Court as political, stirring voters left and right to mobilize ahead of the 2024 elections and encouraging culture warriors to shop their legal challenges to the six justices in the majority who were appointed by Republican presidents.

“I think they may do too much harm,” Biden said during a Thursday interview with MSNBC when asked about the justices’ rulings. Earlier in the day he told reporters, “This is not a normal court” (The New York Times).

Reacting to Thursday’s 6-3 decision that struck down college admissions programs that are based on race at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Harvard University, the president said, “The truth is, we all know it: Discrimination still exists in America. … It’s a simple fact” (The Hill, NBC News).

The New York Times: The Supreme Court’s supermajority continued to redefine key aspects of American life.

The Hill: What will colleges do in the way of the high court’s affirmative action ruling?

The New York Times: The court’s decision may mean a sharp drop in admissions among Black and Latino students, based on outcomes seen among nine states that already ban race-conscious college admissions at their public universities.

The Washington Post: State affirmative action bans helped white and Asian students and hurt others.

“I do not expect universities to take this decision lightly. [Diversity, equality and inclusion] DEI has become one of the highest, if not the highest, priority at many schools and I expect universities to look for loopholes and workarounds,” Brian Fitzpatrick, Vanderbilt University professor of law, said Thursday.

The Supreme Court ruled that programs at Harvard and UNC violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and are therefore unlawful. The vote was 6-3 in the UNC case and 6-2 in the Harvard case, in which liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was recused (The New York Times).

Reactions from members of Congress, advocacy groups and former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama generally fell along partisan lines. Republicans celebrated the affirmative action decision as a win for fairness. Liberals saw it as activist extremism. The Congressional Black Caucus accused the court of laboring to “deny young people seeking an education equal opportunity in our education system.”

Former President Trump, who appointed three of the justices in the majority, called the ruling “a great day for America” in a short message to supporters. GOP presidential primary rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, tweeted that “merit” had been restored and would end “discrimination by colleges and universities.”

Writing for the conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts did not explicitly say that former precedents were overruled, but in a concurring opinion conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, only the second Black justice to serve on the court, said a 2003 opinion from the court that race could be weighed as a factor in admissions was “for all intents and purposes, overruled.”

Jackson, nominated by Biden and the first Black woman to serve on the court, wrote in a dissenting opinion that the ruling was “truly a tragedy for us all.”

ABC News: Jackson blasted “let-them-eat-cake obliviousness” in her dissent.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another liberal and the first Hispanic justice, wrote that the court “stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.

Selective schools with competitive admissions programs are the most affected by the court’s opinion. Those schools anticipate a drop in the enrollment of minority students following the ruling, which will require admissions officers to experiment with new race-neutral plans intended to counteract the impact and to encourage a diverse student body, NBC reported. Most colleges accept almost all applicants and do not expect to be as impacted. Historically Black colleges and universities said they’ll see more applications. Medical schools lamented they will see fewer Black students enroll to be doctors.

Schools are expected to try to circumvent the ruling in two ways: by encouraging discussion of race or ethnicity in applicants’ essays and perhaps constructing non-race-based preferences for certain zip codes, high schools or applicants who are the first in their families to apply to college.

So why is the decision a blockbuster? Because studies suggest, and Democrats argue, that non-elite students get pushed into less prestigious institutions, which creates long-term implications for incomes and job prospects while promoting inequality.

The court’s decision also may affect K-12 schools and could lead to future challenges to racial diversity programs used by employers. Similar arguments could be made under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment.

Roberts noted that the ruling does not address the consideration of race in military academies. The Biden administration had warned that a ruling curbing affirmative action would detrimentally affect the U.S. military, which depends on a “well-qualified and diverse officer corps.”

Related Articles

The Hill: The Supreme Court will rule on student debt relief today.

The Associated Press: The Supreme Court on Thursday bolstered protection for workers who ask for religious accommodations.

The Hill: Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a presidential contender who entered college on a football scholarship, told Fox News that he wants universities to end legacy preferential admissions.

The Hill: Harvard and UNC on Thursday said they will comply with the high court’s ruling outlawing affirmative action. Harvard added in a statement that it “must admit and educate a student body whose members reflect, and have lived, multiple facets of human experience.”

The New Republic: Ahead of today’s likely ruling in 303 Creative v. Elenis, “The mysterious case of the fake gay marriage website, the real straight man and the Supreme Court.”



Senate Republicans have a good chance to capture the majority in 2024 but their odds could take a big hit depending on the outcome of primaries in West Virginia, Montana and Arizona, writes The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) is leading in the early polls in Montana, despite losing to Sen. Jon Tester (R-Mont.) in 2018 — and while Republicans see other candidates, such as former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy or state Attorney General Austin Knudsen, as potentially more competitive, Rosendale will be tough to beat.

In West Virginia, popular Gov. Jim Justice is favored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but he could face a tough primary race from Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), who is backed by the Club for Growth. In Arizona, former television anchor turned 2022 gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is weighing a bid for Senate, which GOP strategists in D.C. see as bad for their chances of picking up Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) seat.

Trump’s legal problems off the campaign trail and aversion to directly addressing the issue of abortion appear to have done little to damage his support among the religious right — a critical bloc for any Republican who wants to win the primary and general election. But evangelical leaders argued the voting bloc is not entirely sold on backing Trump for the nomination, writes The Hill’s Brett Samuels, and candidates who want to peel off evangelical voters will have to earn their support.

“A lot of people like Trump and like what he did as president. So he’s familiar, and they’re familiar and he was received well,” said Timothy Head, executive director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “They’re as interested or more interested in who can win who carries the same values and policies. They liked what they had with Trump, and now they’re assessing, is there anything even better? I think that’s the competition that’s unfolding.”

Trump will speak in Pickens, S.C., Saturday as part of the city’s Independence Day Spectacular (WSPA).

The New York Times: The Koch network has raised more than $70 million in a push to sink Trump. Americans for Prosperity Action is wading into a Republican presidential primary for the first time, and waiting to see which candidate it will get behind next year.

During a friendly Fox News interview with Jesse Watters on Thursday, DeSantis defended his bifurcated schedule, saying he can handle running for President and being governor of Florida at the same time, but he’s just sleeping less.

“I’m still working though. So, you know, we’re signing bills still, we’re vetoing bills. We’re still doing all of that. I’m doing both. I’m just, I’m just sleeping less,” DeSantis said.

Critics such as the DeSantis Watch group have noted that a total of “eighteen days out of thirty in the month of June that Florida’s Governor will have spent outside the state he was elected to govern.” DeSantis is still signing bills — while on a fundraising trip to New York City Thursday, he signed into law a controversial measure that will allow radioactive phosphogypsum to be used in road paving. The EPA approved using it for road construction under Trump, but Biden reversed the policy, and the legislation will test that federal rule (Florida Politics and CBS News).

Florida Politics: DeSantis pushes back against claims he’s been “disloyal” to Trump.

Fox News: Ron DeSantis slings pizzas in criticism of potential New York oven regulation.

Former Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to Ukraine Thursday, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky during the campaign (NBC News).

Biden, meanwhile, has cozied up to high-dollar donors at Upper East Side penthouses in New York and on West Coast decks in recent weeks. The president attended two fundraisers in Manhattan on Thursday that closed out an end-of-quarter campaign blitz that his team believes will put him on strong financial footing for a 2024 White House contest expected to set spending records.

“I’ve been doing this for a really long time for a number of presidents and presidential candidates,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul, major Democratic donor and co-chair of Biden’s campaign. “I’ve never seen from top to bottom, the Democratic enterprise kick into gear this way, from [former] President Obama, governors, senators, congressmen, just across the board — he’s gotten outstanding support.”

The Federal Election Commission’s fundraising quarter ends today, and data about candidates’ fundraising efforts will be released mid-July, providing a window into campaign successes a year and a half out from the 2024 election (PBS NewsHour).

Sabato’s Crystal Ball projections for the 2024 Electoral College snapshot. Expect another highly competitive election; small edge to Democrats but neither side over 270 to start.” Crystal Ball projects Democrats have 260 electoral votes and Republicans have 235. It identifies four “toss-up” states: Arizona (11 electoral votes), Georgia (16), Nevada (6) and Wisconsin (10). Leans Republican: North Carolina (16) and Maine’s 2nd congressional district (1). Leans Democratic: Michigan (15), Pennsylvania (19) and New Hampshire (4).

2024 roundup: Former tech executive Lexi Reese announced Thursday that she is entering California’s 2024 Senate contest, adding another Democrat to a growing field of candidates that already includes three members of Congress (The Associated Press). … AI-generated text is hard to spot. It could play a big role in the 2024 campaign (NPR). … DeSantis’s legislative actions in Florida are intersecting with his agenda on the presidential campaign trail (NBC News). … “Raised to argue”: Longshot Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says his 2024 campaign is “largely misunderstood” (USA Today).


Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) survival may depend on whether he can pull off a difficult task this summer: bridging the huge gap between his ultraconservatives and GOP centrists on government funding before the September deadline. McCarthy has to clear a dozen spending bills, altogether worth more than $1 trillion, through a chamber where he only has a razor-thin majority — and even his allies say he doesn’t have the votes right now (Politico).

“We’ve got to figure out how we get 218 votes out of a pile of 222 Republicans. And that means we have to operate in a different fashion,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior appropriator and House Rules Committee chairman, told Politico, summing up the challenge of packing bills with GOP wishes that may ultimately be stripped out.

Roll Call: Congressional Budget Office says long-term debt is lower than forecast last year.

The Hill: Six senators plan to attend a NATO summit next month in Vilnius, Lithuania. Biden also will be there.

MSNBC: McCarthy doesn’t appear to be kidding about impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The Washington Post: A year after Congress passed a landmark gun bill, is it working?

NBC News: This Democrat has led an anti-gun violence group in Congress for a decade. Now some want a change.

The Hill: GOP requests interviews with the investigators working the Hunter Biden case.

The Hill: Oversight Democrats argue the GOP overlooked information undercutting the allegations by Republicans against Hunter Biden.



Russian President Vladimir Putin is using neighboring Belarus for an unpredictable new role, exiling the Wagner group and its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin there after he aborted a shocking, but short-lived, armed rebellion. As The Hill’s Laura Kelly reports, Belarus’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, is taking credit for pulling Prigozhin back from the brink and convincing Putin to exercise restraint by giving clemency to Wagner troops that have prosecuted some of the bloodiest battles of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Lukashenko is basking in the spotlight as mediator and using the crisis to assert his power in an uneasy relationship with Moscow, where Putin effectively uses Belarus as an extension of Russian territory.

Meanwhile, Russia’s most senior generals have dropped out of public view after the failed mercenary mutiny amid a drive by Putin to reassert his authority. Reuters reports unconfirmed reports say that at least one person has been detained and is being questioned. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg — who will stay in his post for another year — and Zelensky took center stage at Thursday’s European Union summit, underscoring the importance the 27 EU leaders attach to protecting their eastern flank from Russian aggression and beefing up Ukraine’s defense capabilities. But the biggest seat at the table was reserved for something that’s not officially on the agenda: the fallout from the stunning weekend mutiny (The Associated Press).

“The mutiny we saw at the weekend demonstrates that there are cracks and divisions within the Russian system,” Stoltenberg said. “At the same time, it is important to underline that these are internal Russian matters.”

The New York Times: Days after a dramatic threat to his power, Putin is ramping up his public appearances.

Politico EU: The European Parliament wants Ukraine’s EU membership talks to start in December.

Politico Magazine, by Jonathan Martin (writing from Berlin): Mainstream conservatives are on the run in the U.S. and in Europe, too.

The Associated Press: French suburbs are burning. How a teen’s killing is focusing anger over police tactics.


“Race neutral” is the new “separate but equal,” by Uma Mazyck Jayakumar and Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic.

Affirmative action is dead. Campus diversity doesn’t have to be, by David Brooks, columnist, The New York Times. (Audio with transcript).


🎇 Morning Report will return to inboxes on Wednesday, July 5. Readers will receive The Hill’s Tipsheet with the latest news and headlines on Monday and Tuesday. Happy Fourth of July!

📲 Ask The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.

The House will meet at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session; lawmakers return July 11 to the Capitol.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. on Monday for a pro forma session. Members return to Washington on July 10.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11 a.m. Biden will depart the White House at 4 p.m. for Camp David.

Vice President Harris will participate in a moderated conversation during the ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans about issues ranging from protecting reproductive freedom to addressing the maternal crisis. She will travel later today from Louisiana to Los Angeles.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in New Orleans to visit solar energy company PosiGen at 10:15 a.m. CT and speak about the administration’s renewable energy and economic agenda, now embodied in law. The secretary will participate at 1:45 p.m. CT and again at 3 p.m. CT during the Essence Festival’s Global Black Economic Forum in New Orleans.

First lady Jill Biden will mark the 50th anniversary of the nation’s all-volunteer force with a speech during a graduation ceremony held at U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island in South Carolina (Island Packet).

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is in New York City where he will tour Emblem Health Community Neighborhood Care Center in Brooklyn at 10 a.m. and participate in a private roundtable with seniors, physicians and patients focused on the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act. He will be joined by House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). The two men will hold a press availability at 10:50 a.m. The secretary at 11:30 a.m. ​​will visit Glow Cultural Center in Flushing, Queens, for a roundtable with local stakeholders about expansion of language access programs and healthcare for immigrant communities. Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) will participate. Becerra and Meng will meet with reporters at 12:40 p.m.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 3:15 p.m.



What could a major UPS worker strike mean for your packages? The Hill’s Aris Folley and Sylvan Lane report tens of thousands of unionized workers for UPS are on the verge of going on strike as negotiations for better benefits and working conditions reach a critical point. Workers dialed up the pressure on the shipping giant this week, after they threatened to walk away from the bargaining table if the company fails to present its “best and final offer” by Friday.

Just over a month remains until a key deadline for both sides to reach a deal or risk a major strike for a company that averaged over 24 million packages daily last year.

Axios: As UPS labor talks heat up, union leader calls strike “inevitable.”

CNBC: Southwest Airlines pilots’ union lays groundwork for potential strike with labor talks at an impasse.

The Hill: Gen Zers make “difficult” employees, managers say.

Twenty states and counting have passed laws that heavily restrict or ban gender-affirming health care, including 17 states that acted this year. Most laws regulate puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and surgeries for transgender minors, although measures adopted in states including Florida and Missouri also affect access to care for transgender adults. One year ago this month, Biden issued an executive order to safeguard access to gender-affirming health care for transgender Americans, charging the Department of Health and Human Services with promoting “expanded access” to care in every state (The Hill).

“I think a lot of us would really like to see the administration doing more,” said Kellen Baker, the executive director of Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, a health center specializing in LGBTQ care.

The Hill: Here are five lawmakers to watch in the fight for LGBTQ equality.

The Washington Post: Transgender care bans for Kentucky, Tennessee minors partly blocked.

The Guardian: “There are more trans bans than trans athletes”: What’s driving anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the U.S.?


Bad news for Fourth of July travelers, especially those in the Northeast. Flight cancellations and delays racked up on a fifth straight day Thursday as severe weather caused a domino effect of headaches for passengers and airlines, especially United Airlines.

United canceled more than 2,600 flights from Saturday to Thursday, including more than 300 as high winds and thunderstorms rocked its hub airport in Newark, N.J., on Thursday. The airline canceled 800 flights on Tuesday, the most in a single day since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as other airlines’ cancellation rates lessened, United was center stage with nearly 3,000 flights scratched since Saturday, or 36 percent of the industry total (The Hill and CNN).

The Guardian: Thousands of flights canceled as travel chaos threatens Fourth of July weekend.


Photo —QUIZ-fireworks:

And finally 👏👏👏 Winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz turned in impressive guesses about the Fourth of July. Bravo! 🎇

Here’s who sparkled with four correct answers: Tom Chabot, Harry Strulovici, Patrick Kavanagh, Mary Anne McEnery, Bob McLellan, Randall S. Patrick, Paul Harris, Jaina Mehta, Steve James, Phil Kirstein, Lori Benso, Robert Bradley, Luther Berg, Candi Cee, Stan Wasser, Anita Bales and Lynn Gardner.

They knew that the Continental Congress officially voted for independence on July 2, although July 4 is Independence Day.

What is it about the demise of former presidents? John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe each died on July 4, making “all of the above” the correct answer.

American consumers in 2022 spent an estimated $2 billion on Fourth of July fireworks. Kaboom!

The Philippines also celebrates its independence on July 4.

Stay Engaged

We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger and Kristina Karisch. Follow us on Twitter (@asimendinger and @kristinakarisch) and suggest this newsletter to friends!


For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.