Briefs filed with the Supreme Court in defense of affirmative action


Although the Supreme Court last week separated affirmative action cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, both universities filed briefs in their cases today. Each brief featured the cases of affirmative action in admissions and was accompanied by the President of Harvard and the Chancellor of Chapel Hill speaking directly about the cases.

Harvard’s brief cited the background and history of the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing “equal protection of laws.” And he pointed out that the Supreme Court has 40 years of precedent confirming the ability of colleges and universities to consider race as one factor among others in admissions decisions.

“The framers of the Fourteenth Amendment understood that race could be seen as advancing overarching governmental goals, rejecting more absolute language [Students for Fair Admissions] would have preferred, and state and federal authorities at the time adopted race-conscious measures to promote the equal participation of African Americans in society,” the brief reads. (Students for Fair Admissions filed the lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court cases.)

Additionally, the brief states that the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that diversity has benefits for education.

“This finding reflects common sense reality, not stereotype,” the brief said. “This court’s repeated statements that the educational benefits of student body diversity are a compelling governmental interest justifying narrowly tailored consideration of race in college admissions are correct, empirically sound, and consistent with precedent. .”

Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow said, “I encourage everyone to read the memoir. He also argues persuasively that the text and history of the 14th Amendment supports the conclusion that the Constitution permits race to be considered as one factor among others in a whole-person admissions process. We remain firm believers that every college and university must retain the freedom and flexibility to create the diverse educational communities that will prepare their students for the opportunities and challenges they will face in an increasingly diverse society.

The University of North Carolina brief highlighted the nature of college admissions. He noted that UNC considers academic performance, class ranking, essays, experiences and potential contributions to the educational environment on campus, geography, military background and socioeconomic background. . UNC only considers race or ethnicity if a student chooses to share that information and, even then, as one of many factors.

“Carolina is passionately public, and we’re proud to be one of the few flagship universities to practice blind admissions and provide assistance to low-debt, full-needs students,” said Chapel Hill Chancellor , Kevin M. Guskiewicz, in a statement. “Our approach to admissions serves the university’s mission and reflects our core values. Every student deserves their place at Carolina.

“As a faculty member here for over 27 years, I have witnessed firsthand the value of our holistic admissions process,” Guskiewicz said. “Each year we welcome new, bright and talented Tar Heels from a variety of backgrounds and with different lived experiences. Their interactions with others who have a wide range of experiences are critical to their education and success in the life after graduation.

Chapel Hill students and alumni also filed a brief with the Supreme Court, in which they harshly criticized the university. Chapel Hill recognized the impact of segregation and Jim Crow in its history, but students and alumni made these points crucial.

“Being black is intrinsically tied to all of my life experiences and, therefore, my candidacy for college,” said Andrew Brennan, UNC Class of 2019. “This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to undervalue and overlook students of color like me. I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of a multiracial campus, which accurately reflects the society we live in and allows students to have a more culturally enriched educational experience. It will be a disservice to all students if we undo the progress we have made in diversifying schools across the country, which is largely through affirmative action.

The other side

Students for Fair Admission could not be reached for comment.

However, in May, when he weighed in with the Supreme Court on the cases, he had a very different view from all the briefs filed on Monday.

Edward Blum, president of the group, said at the time: “The ancient faith that gave birth to the civil rights laws of our country is the principle that an individual’s race should not be used for help or harm him in his life’s endeavors. It is the hope of the vast majority of all Americans that the judges will end these polarizing admissions policies.

Also in May, groups that side with students for fair admissions filed briefs with the Supreme Court.

Many more submissions are expected next week. August 1 is the deadline for submissions supporting Harvard and UNC.

Cases must be debated in the fall.


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