Supreme Court Upholds Use of Race in College Admissions

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June 24, 2013
Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions, while remanding the University of Texas at Austin (UT) case back to the lower courts to determine if UT's admissions process meets the demanding constitutional standard for use of race as a consideration.

We are relieved that the Supreme Court has preserved its 2003 Grutter decision and ruled to uphold the use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions. In the years since Grutter, 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.

As legal advocates for LGBT people and people with HIV of all races and ethnicities, we are deeply committed to the values of diversity and fairness. 

Meaningful interactions among students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds—not just the presence of some arbitrary number of minority students on a campus—yield important educational benefits for everyone. These benefits include improved classroom experiences and learning outcomes, and better preparation for work and civic engagement later on.

We are hopeful that UT's carefully crafted admission process will be found by the lower courts to further the very compelling interests it was intended to advance for all UT students.

Last year, Lambda Legal joined the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and other allied organizations to file a friend-of-the-court brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin to argue that the University of Texas at Austin's use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.

Read the press release.