PRINCETON, NJ (October 21, 2011)—The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has joined a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to revisit the diversity rationale for racial preferences in American college and university admissions.
The plaintiff in the case is Abigail Fisher, who maintains that the University of Texas at Austin discriminated against her on the basis of race when it denied her admission.
The brief argues that the University of Texas’s race-based admissions policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and it urges the Court to reconsider the role of “diversity” in education. The brief contends that colleges and universities should prioritize race-neutral alternatives over racial classifications, and it quotes as an authority NAS president Peter Wood’s book Diversity: The Invention of a Concept.
In January 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld racial preferences, but one of the judges on the panel, Emilio M. Garza, wrote a 30-page “special concurrence” to accompany his decision. He wrote that although he felt that the 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger bound him to decide as he did, he considered Grutter a “misstep” which only the Supreme Court could rectify. He wrote, “Yesterday’s racial discrimination was based on racial preference; today’s racial preference results in racial discrimination.” Garza’s opinion may have set up an opportunity for the Supreme Court to at least clarify, if not repeal race-based preferences.
NAS joins the Pacific Legal Foundation’s brief, which is also joined by the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), and Project 21.
Stephen Balch, NAS chairman, said, “Preferences in our nation’s institutions of higher education tend to prolong racial prejudice, conflict, and achievement gaps. If we are ever to move into an era of human equality and justice, we must shed racial and ethnic preferences. Our rising generations will be better for it, and so will the quality of the education we give them. We urge the Supreme Court to recognize this.”
NAS works to improve American higher education by expanding intellectual standards, academic freedom, and institutional transparency in colleges and universities. To learn more about NAS, visit www.nas.org.
Stephen Balch, NAS: 609-683-7878; [email protected]