ABA encourages U.S. Supreme Court to uphold University of Texas at Austin's diversity efforts

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief Monday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide that the University of Texas at Austin's use of race as one of many considerations in undergraduate admissions decisions is constitutional and consistent with the court's precedents.

The amicus brief, similar to the ABA's filing when the case was before the court previously, argues that undergraduate admissions policies like UT-Austin's are paramount for increasing the number of qualified minority students in the pipeline to law schools and the legal profession, and critical for ensuring that legal and political institutions fully reflect and represent all members of society. "A diverse legal profession helps to demonstrate that the path to leadership is open to all citizens and that the justice system serves the public in a fair and inclusive manner," the ABA brief said.

The Supreme Court had remanded the case to the lower court for application of the correct standard of review, and the petitioners now assert that the lower court again erred. The ABA brief urges affirmance of the lower court's re-endorsement of the school's undergraduate admissions policies as consistent with Supreme Court precedent.

"Over the past half-century, admissions programs like the one at issue here have enabled meaningful progress in diversifying the legal profession and creating educational environments that help to dismantle racial bias and stereotypes," the ABA brief asserts. "However, much progress remains to be made. Thus, the ABA urges the court to reaffirm that admissions policies which take race into account as one factor out of many are consistent with the principles espoused for many years in the court's jurisprudence, and further the compelling interest of diversity in higher education.

The ABA's amicus brief in Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin is available at http://www.americanbar.org/content/ dam/aba/images/abanews/FISHERvUTAustin_amicus.pdf.

Published: Thu, Nov 05, 2015