Education | Educational Equity
UPDATE: 11/13/2013 LDF
argued in Fisher vs. University of Texas on remand to the Fifth Circuit.
here to read LDF's amicus brief. UPDATE: 6/24/13 Supreme Court Rules in
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The Court’s opinion endorses the benefits of student-body diversity in colleges and universities and allows the continued use of race-conscious admissions policies. Read the Supreme Court’s Opinion. View reactions to Supreme Court ruling from the education community, media coverage and a photo slideshow of rally after the oral argument.
Fisher v. UT Austin is the first federal litigation challenging the use of race in university admissions since the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in which upheld an admissions policy at the University of Michigan Law School and broadly affirmed the educational importance of diversity. Grutter v. Bollinger
On August 13, 2012 the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) filed an
in amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve diversity and opportunity in America’s colleges and universities.
Read the transcript and hear the oral argument in this case before the U.S. Supreme Court
UT’s consideration of race in admissions is exceedingly modest, even more so than the law school admissions policy at issue in
Grutter. But the impact of the race-conscious component of the policy is meaningful. After UT added consideration of race into its individualized admissions policy beginning in 2005, African-Americans enrollment grew by over 21 percent.
The admissions policy at issue in
Fisher has two components: Most students are admitted under a state law (the “Top Ten Percent Plan”), which requires the University of Texas at Austin to admit all Texas residents who rank in the top ten percent of their high school class. For the remainder of the class, UT undertakes a holistic “whole-file” review of applications. This process allows the school to consider additional criteria, such as essays, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities, awards, work experience, community service, family responsibilities, socio-economic status, languages spoken in the home, and—as of 2005—race. It is this modest consideration of race alongside a host of other factors that is now at issue in the Supreme Court.
LDF has played a key role in
Fisher, filing briefs at every stage of the litigation and presenting oral argument in the court of appeals in support of the diversity policy adopted by UT. On April 13, 2009, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) filed a friend of court brief in the district court in Texas . LDF’s friend of the court brief was filed on behalf of the Black Student Alliance at UT Austin. The brief emphasized the limited enrollment of, and isolation experienced by, African-American and other students of color in the eight-year period before UT Austin reinstituted race as a factor in admissions for the 2005 entering class. As a consequence, LDF argued, all students were deprived of the educational benefits of diversity.
The Supreme Court’s conceptualization of the educational benefits of diversity dates back to a former LDF case,
Sweatt v. Painter. In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court in Sweatt ordered UT’s Law School to admit an African-American candidate, Heman Marion Sweatt. Although Sweatt was academically qualified, he had been denied admission based solely on his race. This history, combined with the need to improve the racial climate on campus, elevated the particular importance and educational benefits of promoting student diversity at UT and bolstered the case for UT’s eventual return to race-conscious admissions. Sweatt’s daughter and other family members also filed a brief supporting UT.
The suit against the University of Texas was filed in 2008 by two white students who were denied entry into UT Austin. Most students are admitted to UT Austin under the Top Ten Percent Plan, which guarantees admission to all Texas students in the top ten percent of their high school class. The remaining students are admitted under a holistic admissions process that considers race as one of many factors in a student’s application file.
Carla Rivera, " UC files court brief supporting race-based admissions policy ", LA Times, August 13, 2012 Robert Barnes, "
Supreme Court may limit use of race in college admissions ", Washington Post, September 27, 2012 Josh Civin, "
UT’s Race-Conscious Admissions Policy Promotes Individual Dignity for All Students ", ACSBlog, October 3, 2012 Samantha Robles
"UT Needs Holistic Review" , Huffington Post, October 9, 2012 Joshua Fechter, "
Lawyers Tout Admissions Policy, Diversity on Campus ", The Daily Texan, October 13, 2012 Linda Greenhouse, "
History Lessons ", N.Y. Times, October 3 , 2012 Marc Morial – President & CEO, National Urban League, "
Supreme Court To Hear Major Affirmative Action Case ", I Am Empowered, October 10, 2012 Robert Post, Dean of Yale Law School, & Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School, "
Why Race Matters in School Admissions ", Washington Post, October 5, 2012 Jennifer Renee Johnson, University of Texas student, "
Sunday Dialogue, Using Race in Admissions ", N.Y. Times, October 6, 2012 Elise Boddie, "'
Sunday Dialogue, Using Race in Admissions' By Elise Boddie ", N.Y. Times, October 6, 2012 Steven Farmer, Vice Provost, University of North Carolina, "
Fisher v. Texas: It’s Wrong to Curb Diversity ", The Hill, October 8, 2012 Cortney Sanders, University of Texas student, "
Op-Ed, Building a Campus that Includes Everyone ", Daily Texan, October 8, 2012 Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer, "
Justices to re-examine use of race in college admissions ", CNN Wire, October 8, 2012 Lee C. Bollinger and Claude M. Steele, "
A High-Stakes Battle for Higher Education ", LA Times, October 9, 2012 Bobby R. Inman, Admiral, USN (ret.), "
Why Diversity Counts in National Security ",Time Magazine, October 9, 2012 Rachel Godsil, "
Affirmative action and the unprepared minority myth ", LA Times, October 9, 2012 Jared Dawson, University of Texas student, "
Another Face of Affirmative Action ", The Horn, October 9, 2012 Bill Mears, "
As high court hears affirmative action case, student voices differ on diversity ", CNN, October 9, 2012 Editorial, "
Why the High Court Should Back Race-Based College Admissions ", Washington Post, October 9, 2012 Editorial, "
Keep Schools’ Right To Limited Use of Race ", USA Today, October 10, 2012 Terry Baynes, "
Supreme Court Justices Challenge Affirmative Action at Universities ", Reuters, October 10, 2012 Andrea Hsu, "‘
Sweatt Vs. Painter’: Nearly Forgotten, But Landmark Texas Integration ", NPR Blog, October 10, 2012 Debo Adegbile, "
Why Diversity In Higher Education Isn’t Optional ", Melissa Harris Perry Blog, October 10, 2012 Editorial, "
Race-Conscious Admissions in Texas ", NY Times, October 10, 2012 Editorial, "
A diverse student body benefits society ", Austin American- Statesman, October 10, 2012 Rep. Mike Honda, "
Don't Mess With Texas? How the Supreme Court Should Rule on Education Case ", Huffington Post, October 10, 2012 Elise Boddie, "
Commentary on Fisher: The importance of diversity within diversity ", SCOTUS BLOG, October 11, 2012 Toure, "
Why We Still Need Affirmative Action ", TIME, October 12, 2012 Dan Christman and John F. Regni (former military academy superintendents), "
Military needs a diverse officer corps in a worldwide setting ", San Antonio Express News, October 16, 2012 David Jesse, "
Affirmative action key to helping cities, former U-M official says ", Detroit Free Press, October 19, 2012 Lena Martinez-Watts, "
Knowledgeable Approach Can Take Stress Out of Affirmative Action Conversations ", DIVERSE Issues in Higher Education, October 19, 2012 Michael Kinsley, "
Overthinking Affirmative Action ", Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2012 Richard Lempert, et al., "
All hat, no cattle? Mismatch and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin ", SCOTUS BLOG, November 5, 2012 Editorial, "
Class-Based v. Race-Based Admissions ", New York Times, November 18, 2012 William Kidder
"High Target for “Mismatch”: Bogus Arguments about Affirmative Action" , Los Angeles Review of Books, February 7, 2013 Nikole Hannah-Jones, "
A Colorblind Constitution: What Abigail Fisher’s Affirmative Action Case Is Really About ", PRO PUBLICA, March 18, 2013 William E. Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland, "
How We Can Be Better Stewards of the American Dream ", The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 15, 2013 Damon Hewitt
"The Struggle Continues 59 Years After Brown v. Board of Education" , the Cincinnati Herald, May 17, 2013 Lee Bollinger
"The Real Mismatch: The Supreme Court Should Not Force Universities To Trade Affirmative Action for Socioeconomic Diversity. Schools Can Have Both" , Slate, May 30, 2013 Mark Walsh
"Theories Abound With Race-in-Admissions Ruling Still to Come. Education Week" , Education Week, May 30, 2013 Ronald Brownstein
"Why This Affirmative Action Debate Is Different" , National Journal, May 31, 2013 Lix Halloran
"Court Prepares To Write New Chapters In Civil Rights History" , NPR, June 01, 2013 Angela Onwuachi-Willig
"Clarence Thomas and Affirmative Action" , National Law Journal, June 3, 2013 Bill Mears
"A summary of major upcoming Supreme Court decisions" , CNN.com, June 3, 2012 Max Mihelich
"High Court Affirmative Action Case Could Have Workplace Implications" , Workforce, June 5, 2013 James M. Glaser and Timothy J. Ryan
"Preferences always will play a part in admissions: Colleges use myriad non-racial selections to balance classes" , Houston Chronicle, June 6, 2013 Dr. Gail Christopher
"The Conversation We're Not Having When We Talk About Affirmative Action" , Huffington Post, Jun 6, 2013
"Statement from Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, Regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin" , June, 2013 Leo Higdon, Jr., President, Connecticut College, Op-Ed
"Court Should Uphold Race Factor in College Admissions" , Hartford Courant, June 7, 2013 Lincoln Caplan
"The Effects of Race-Neutral Admissions" , N.Y. Times, June 11, 2013 Linda Greenhouse
"What’s Your Hurry?" , N.Y. Times Opinionator Blog, June 12, 2013 Jamelle Bouie
"Where Do Americans Stand on Affirmative Action?" , American Prospect, June 13, 2013 Gene D. Block
"Diversity on Campus Is Nearly Impossible Without Racial Preferences" , June 24, 2013 The National Law Journal
"Supreme Court Compromises in Affirmative Action Case" , June 24, 2013 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
"Statement on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin" , June 24, 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder
"Statement on the Supreme Court Decision in Fisher V. University of Texas" , June 24, 2013 SCOTUSblog
"Commentary on Fisher: In with a bang, out with a fizzle" , June 24th, 2013 Molly Ball
"The Supreme Court’s Pleasant Surprise for Affirmative-Action Advocates" , The Atlantic, June 24, 2013 Libby Sander
"For U. of Texas Students, Ruling Brings Mix of Surprise and Relief" , Chronicle of Higher Ed, June 24, 2013 Stephanie Condon
"Supreme Court Holds Off on Major Affirmative Action Decision" , CBS News, June 24, 2013 Sherrilyn Ifill
"Affirmative Action Ruling a Victory for Future" , June 24, 2013 Journal Sentinel staff and Associated Press
"In Texas case, high court backs 2003 affirmative action decision" , Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel, June 24, 2013 Lee Bollinger
"A Long, Slow Drift from Racial Justice" , NY Times, June 25, 2013 Bill McKenzie
"Fisher v. Texas: Why UT Should Still Be Able To Use Race As One of Several Factors" , June 25, 2013 Joint Statement of Constitutional Law Scholars
"Statement of Nation’s Leading Constitutional Law Scholars on U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling" , June 25, 2013 Rachel Perlmutter
"One in a Sea of Fishers" , The Horn, June 26, 2013 Crystal Chambers
"Not the End of Affirmative Action as We Know It" , Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, June 26, 2013 Dennis Parker and Courtney Bowie
"The Solution to Campus Diversity Problem Isn’t Segregation Everywhere Else" , June 26, 2013 Chris Lewis
"Affirmative Action is About More than Diversity" , June 26, 2013 Damon T. Hewitt
"Fisher Case: Fight for Diversity Not Over" , The Root, June 26, 2013 Gay MacDougall
"Affirmative Action's Modern Purpose " , The Root, June 26, 2013 Sharon Davies, Executive Director,
" Fisher and the Hidden Crisis of Black Male Collegians" , Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity June 26, 2013 College Board & Education Counsel, Access and Diversity Collaborative
"'Decision Day' Key Questions" , June 27, 2013 Lee C. Bollinger
"To Move Forward, We Must Look Back" , The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 27, 2013 Janell Ross "
Landmark Affirmative Action Case in Court Again ", The Root, November 14, 2013
The College Board "The College Board Responds to the US Supreme Court’s Fisher v. University of Texas Decision" , June 24, 2013 National School Boards Association
"NSBA applauds Supreme Court’s school diversity ruling" , June 24, 2013 American Council on Education
"Statement of ACE President Molly Corbett Broad on Fisher v. University of Texas" , June 24, 2013 University of Texas
"University of Texas at Austin President Responds to Supreme Court Ruling" , June 24, 2013 NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
"NASPA Reacts to Fisher Court Case Ruling" , June 24, 2013 University of Wisconsin
"Chancellor’s Statement on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin" , June 24, 2013 University of Indiana
"IU President issues statement on Fisher v. University of Texas ruling" , June 24, 2013 MIT
"Letter to the community regarding Fisher v. University of Texas" , June 24, 2013 Carleton College
"Thiboutot Talks Fisher v. U of Texas Supreme Court Case Decision With MPR" , June 24, 2013 University of Minnesota
Statement from U of M President Kaler on U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 'Fisher v. University of Texas'" , June 24, 2013 Jill Anderson, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"HGSE Reacts to Supreme Court’s “Fisher” Ruling" , June 25, 2013 Kevin Kiley, Inside Higher Ed ,
"The Day After, In Texas" , June 26, 2013 Libby Sander
"For U. of Texas Students, Ruling Brings Mix of Surprise and Relief" , The Chronicle of Higher Education,June 27, 2013 College Board & Education Counsel
"Understanding Fisher v. the University of Texas: Policy Implications of What the U.S. Supreme Court Did (and Didn't) Say About Diversity and the Use of Race and Ethnicity in College Admissions" , July 9, 2013 Scholarly Articles
Civil Rights community, "
Response to The Century Foundation’s Report on Affirmative Action in Higher Education ", LDF, October 5, 2012 Rachel Godsil, "
View from the Gallery – Oral Argument in Fisher v. University of Texas–Austin ",Poverty & Race Vol. 21, No. 6 • PRRAC Journal, November/December 2012 William C. Kidder
"Misshaping the River: Proposition 209 and Lessons for the Fisher Case" , 39 Journal of College and University Law 53, February 21, 2013 Vinay Harpalani
"Fisher's Fishing Expedition" , University of Pa. Journal of Constitutional Law - Heightened Scrutiny, Vol. 15, No. 57, 2013 Gerald Torres
"Fisher v. University of Texas: Living in the Dwindling Shadow of LBJ’s America" , 65 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 97 (2012) Girardeau A. Spann
"Fisher v. Grutter" , 65 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 45 (2012) Audio/Video/Graphics Footage
UP - with host Chris Hayes (MSNBC) "
The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action " September 30, 2012 NBC Nightly News "
High court hears biggest race case in six years " October 12, 2012 Martin Bashir (MSNBC) "
Supreme Court Hears Case on Affirmative Action (Romney, Ryan’s non-affirmative action on Supreme Court case) " October 10, 2012 CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley "
Family of UT trailblazer hope policy continues " October 10, 2012 CNN "
SCOTUS to Hear Affirmative Action Case " October 10, 2012
Audio of Oral Argument PBS NewsHour(PBS) "
Supreme Court Hears Affirmative Action Challenges " October 10, 2012 The Early Show (CBS) "
Grading Affirmative Action " October 10, 2012 Melissa Harris- Perry Show (MSNBC) "
An Open Letter to Justice Clarence Thomas " October 13, 2012 Melissa Harris- Perry Show (MSNBC) "
Why ending affirmative action makes America less secure " January 26, 2013 USA Today
"Supreme Court to make crucial rulings on race: From Brown to Fisher: Important civil rights cases and moments since 1954" N.Y. Times, Video:
"Big Supreme Court Issues: Same Sex Marriage, Affirmative Action and Voting Rights" , June 6, 2013 CBS News
"Supreme Court holds off on major affirmative action decision" , June 24, 2013 University of Texas at Austin
"Supreme Court returns Fisher case to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals" , June 24, 2013 NY Times
"Interactive Graphic: In States with Affirmative Action Bans, How Minorities Have Fared" , June 24, 2013 Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC)
"Supreme Court clears one major case from their to-do list" , June 24, 2013 All in with Chris Hayes
"Justice Thomas likens affirmative action support to slavery" , June 24, 2013 Democracy Now!
"In Affirmative Action Ruling, Supreme Court Upholds Importance of Diversity in College Admissions" , June 25, 2013