Rev. Al Sharpton was in the courtroom at the Supreme Court during the oral arguments for Fisher v. University of Texas. Following the hearing Sharpton led a rally outside with members of the National Action Network and other leaders.

Sharpton released the following statement urging the Court to issue a ruling that would preserve affirmative action:

“With demonstrations all over the country protesting how Blacks are treated on campus, this case has the potential to eliminate Blacks in significant numbers from ever getting on to campus in the first place. We’re at risk of going from how Black students are treated in the classrooms and dorms of American institutions of higher education to not even making it into these hallways at all. The consequences of a negative ruling in this case would lead to a divided and resegregated America.

“The questioning and tone of this hearing was intemperate, insensitive, and at some points hostile. Particularly alarming was Justice Scalia asserting that African American students are better off at ‘less advanced’ or ‘slower-track’ schools. Occasionally the arguments didn’t feel like they were happening at the Supreme Court but rather at a Donald Trump rally, that’s how vitriolic the atmosphere was at certain points.

“There is the real danger of a ruling that will in effect say race cannot even be one of many factors considered in admission to American colleges and universities. This is the second time the Supreme Court has heard the Fisher case in 3 years. Their first ruling said that race could be a factor, just not the determining factor.

“Now they are contemplating taking things a step further and declaring that race cannot be a factor in admissions at all. That would run counter to so many other background factors that are still allowed to be considered including the place an applicant lives, their test scores, and extracurricular activities – to exclude race from this equation is absolutely unacceptable.

“This decision could be a death knell to affirmative action when we are nowhere near racial diversity in higher education. It would have a ripple effect in other areas of American life like diversity efforts in the private sector with contracts and jobs – and the Supreme Court must not allow that to happen.”