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CLC Signs Amicus Brief Defending Affirmative Action at University of Texas at Austin

Re-printed from The Lawyers' Committee website, here.

Groups Urge Court to Uphold Precedent; Call Diversity "a Compelling Interest"

Washington, D.C. -- Sixteen civil and human rights groups have joined The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in filing an amicus, or  friend-of-the-court, brief with the Supreme Court in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Attorneys with the firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP provided lead counsel for the brief.
The brief argues that, in order for students to receive the educational benefits associated with diverse campus environments, the Court should reaffirm previous rulings such as Grutter v. Bollinger acknowledging that diversity is a compelling state interest and that it is constitutional for universities to use race as one of numerous factors when making individualized admissions decisions to further that diversity interest.
As the Court noted in Grutter, diversity in education remains important "in a society like our own, in which race unfortunately still matters."
The brief cites past court opinions and social science research documenting that a diverse student body leads to a range of educational and societal benefits for all students:
As this Court has recognized, the presence of a diverse student body on campus leads to a range of educational benefits, including improved learning outcomes and better preparation for work and citizenship. Because race and ethnicity continue to affect the experiences and perspectives of individuals in society, racial and ethnic diversity are important aspects of the diversity that promotes the best educational outcomes. (Pg. 3) ...
Admissions decisions, including efforts to realize the benefits of racial diversity, require numerous judgments about the students to be admitted and the nature of their interactions inside and outside the classroom. These judgments require expertise in higher education that universities clearly possess and that is squarely within their constitutional domain. (Pg. 5)
"Diversity benefits all of us," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "U.T. Austin's effort to provide the most diverse and academically enriched campus for its students should be commended as a model for the nation, not subjected to a politically divisive judicial attack on a well-established precedent that preserves equal opportunity for all."
"As the Supreme Court affirmed less than a decade ago, race still matters and shapes much of a student's life experiences," said Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Barbara R. Arnwine. "We know that the educational benefits of diversity flow to all students - not just students of color - and it is crucial that the Court's consideration of this case be informed by the vast amounts of research showing these benefits depend on both the character and the frequency of interactions among students."  
Click here for a PDF of the brief.
A full list of signers is below:
  • Appleseed
  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.
  • Children's Defense Fund (CDF)
  • Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
  • Grand Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (the "Boule")
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • Lambda Legal
  • The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
  • National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
  • National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
  • National Urban League
  • Public Advocates Inc.
  • The Rainbow PUSH Coalition
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit
The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.  For more information on the Lawyers' Committee, visit
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