PLF urges High Court to end race-based admissions policies at public universities
Washington, D.C.; May 29, 2012: In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, Pacific Legal Foundation urges the United States Supreme Court to strike down the race-based admissions policies at the University of Texas at Austin, and hold that discriminatory treatment of applicants is unconstitutional for all public universities and colleges — even if the goal is to “diversify” the student body.
PLF’s amicus brief is submitted in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a constitutional challenge to race-based admissions at UT-Austin and, by extension, at any public university that might be practicing such a policy.
PLF is the nation’s leading legal watchdog for constitutional guarantees of equal protection, and against race-based discrimination and preferences. PLF has been involved in the Fisher case since 2009, as amicus in opposition to U-T’s discriminatory policies.
PLF’s brief submitted today is filed on behalf of PLF, The National Association of Scholars, The Center for Equal Opportunity, The American Civil Rights Institute, and Project 21.
In a core argument, PLF’s brief calls on the Court to overrule its controversial 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bolinger, which has been interpreted to allow race-based admissions policies in higher education, in the name of promoting “diversity” in a student body.
“The goal of ‘student body diversity’ can’t justify discrimination and disregard for the Equal Protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution,” said PLF attorney Joshua Thompson, who authored PLF’s amicus brief. “It can’t provide cover for coding students by color and turning down individual applicants because of their race or ethnic background.
“Our brief asks the Court to take an unequivocal stand for equal rights and equal opportunities in university admissions,” Thompson continued. “America’s tax-supported universities shouldn’t be teaching students that their skin color is what counts, not their hard work, achievements, and character.
“Using diversity to justify discrimination is harmful to more than just the applicants who are turned away because of their race,” said Thompson. “It’s also unfair to students who are admitted on race-based grounds. It diminishes them as individuals by defining them by race or ethnicity. And it amounts to stereotyping. It implies that all members of racial groups have comparable outlooks and backgrounds, so that a student body with a pre-determined racial mix will automatically have a ‘diversity’ of perspectives and experiences.”
The petitioner in the lawsuit is Abigail Fisher, of Sugar Land, who was denied admission to UT-Austin, and is challenging the university’s admissions policy because she was not evaluated on an equal basis with applicants from other racial backgrounds. Instead of looking at all students without regard to skin color, UT-Austin considers an applicant’s race, with favoritism for African-Americans and Hispanics.
The case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is the leading watchdog organization that litigates for limited government and equal protection under the law, in courts nationwide.