WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference Education Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) held a press briefing today to discuss the threats to the longstanding precedent of affirmative action in higher education. On October 31, the Supreme Court will hear two challenges to Harvard College’s and the University of North Carolina’s uses of race, as one of many factors, in college admissions in the cases Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina. Civil rights leaders spoke on the importance of the cases, civil rights groups’ efforts to fight threats to our multiracial democracy, and why admissions policies that are inclusive of students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds are critical to educational equity.
Audio of the call is available here.
Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund, said: “One thing is clear – the future of our multiracial democracy is at stake. The civil rights community is united because we know that we are stronger together, even in the face of the so-called Students for Fair Admissions’ – and Ed Blum’s – attacks on affirmative action. The majority of Americans agree – 87% percent of respondents in our recent poll believe all students benefit from college campuses that reflect the diversity of who we are as Americans. Seventy-nine percent believe diversity contributes to a better education for all students. We must protect this vital tool for ensuring equal opportunity because we know college campuses that reflect the diversity of who we are as Americans make us stronger.”
“The opposition does not speak for Asian Americans, and we reject these false narratives rooted in white supremacy to pit communities of color against one another,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC. “The majority of Asian Americans have consistently supported affirmative action, which allows all students to share their whole story that is inclusive of their identities, histories, and lived experiences. We stand with our Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and indigenous allies to protect race-conscious admissions so we can continue to break down systemic and racial barriers that have denied too many access to a quality education.”
“The Lawyers’ Committee is honored to advocate before the Supreme Court on behalf of a multiracial coalition of students and alumni at the University of North Carolina, and also for students everywhere who believe colleges are stronger with people from a variety of backgrounds on campus and in the classroom,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “With nearly 45 years of established legal precedent supporting the use of race-conscious admissions to make higher education more equitable and accessible to Black and Brown students, the law, logic and history are on our side. The University of North Carolina and Harvard cases remind us that education remains a battleground for civil rights. It is imperative we continue to recognize and center students of color, whose voices and experiences are at the center of this legal fight, as we collectively continue to push for progress both on campus and beyond.”
“It is imperative that the Supreme Court uphold over 40 years of its own precedent for the sake of the credibility of the Court and of all students in our country to get a fair shot at going to college, regardless of their income, where they grew up, or their racial and ethnic background,” said Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “As multiple studies and decades of experience make clear, diverse learning environments enrich the college experience for everyone and better prepare students of all backgrounds for success in today’s multiracial democracy and workplace. These environments are made possible by race-conscious admissions processes that account for the harmful impact of the racism and discrimination in our K-12 education system.”
The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Visit our website at advancingjustice-aajc.org.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.