Lambda Legal Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Affirmative Action in College Admissions

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August 15, 2012

Lambda Legal joined other civil rights and legal groups in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the University of Texas at Austin's use of race to advance diversity.

A friend-of-the-court brief by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among other groups, argues that UT's consideration of race in undergraduate admissions is lawful under the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal's Director of Constitutional Litigation, says:

In the years since the Supreme Court’s 2003 Grutter decision, racial and ethnic disparities have persisted in our nation, in such areas as education, employment, criminal justice and health care. Our nation's public universities continue to have a compelling interest in ensuring the diversity of their student bodies.

Public universities should be able to consider race and ethnicity as one factor in an individualized assessment of the contributions applicants can bring to student life and educational experience.

Many who are LGBT or affected by HIV also belong to the minority communities involved in Fisher. Moreover, our communities well understand the importance of respecting and valuing diversity in educational settings and beyond—principles at the core of this case.

Texas students in the top 10% of their high school class are guaranteed admission to the university. This accounts for approximately 80-90% of admitted students. To fill remaining seats, UT uses a relatively complex set of indices in which race may be considered as one of a number of factors.

Abigail Fisher, a white student denied admission in 2008, sued the university. A federal district court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals both upheld UT's admission policy as constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

Read the brief here.