ACLU Files Amicus Brief With Supreme Court Supporting Universities’ Ability to Consider Race in Admissions

August 1, 2022 1:00 pm

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Massachusetts, and the ACLU of North Carolina filed an amicus brief today urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold universities’ ability to consider race in college admissions. In support of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, the ACLU argues that colleges have an important interest in student body diversity that furthers the values of academic freedom and equal protection. For this reason, the Supreme Court should uphold the ability of institutions of higher education to consider race in a holistic review during the admissions process.

The brief was filed in two cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. In both cases, the organization Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), led by anti-affirmative action crusader Edward Blum, is once again, after previous failed efforts, seeking the elimination of all race-conscious admissions practices.

“Ending the consideration of race in college admissions would ignore the country’s ongoing challenge of racial inequality and threaten diversity and inclusion on campuses everywhere,” said Sarah Hinger, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “Race-conscious admissions practices help create a diverse student body and enrich the educational experiences of all students. The Supreme Court’s holdings have recognized this for decades, and we urge the court to protect universities’ ability to consider race in the admissions process.”

In Fisher v. University of Texas, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that diversity is a “compelling governmental interest,” permitting schools to consider race as a contributing factor to higher education. The ACLU argues a holistic, race-conscious admissions process is the extension of a university’s academic freedom to assemble a diverse student body. SFFA’s proposal to remove consideration of race in admissions conflicts with the ability of a university to select its student body.

Additionally, the consideration of race in college admissions furthers the values of equal protection under the Constitution by helping to diminish stereotypes, promoting integration on college campuses, and improving the ability of students of all races to participate in the academic community.

The briefs were filed on behalf of the ACLU, the ACLU of Massachusetts, and the ACLU of North Carolina.

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