|Posted on June 27, 2016 at 7:00 AM|
NAACP–Supported Equal Opportunity Programs Such As Affirmative Action Prevails In Supreme Court
COURT DETERMINES, BY A 4 – 3 MARGIN, THAT CAREFULLY CRAFTED EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PROGRAMS IN ADMISSIONS SUCH AS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION THAT TAKE RACIAL DIVERSITY INTO CONSIDERATION ARE BENEFICIAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL
On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, upholding the University of Texas’s diversity admission policy. In a 4-3 decision, the Court held that carefully crafted equal opportunity programs such as Affirmative Action in admissions policies that consider racial diversity as one factor in creating a well-rounded student body are constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause.
This is a major victory for universities, social justice, civil rights, and our nation. It reaffirms the NAACP’s longstanding position that schools must remain able to create diverse and inclusive student bodies. The decision confirms that it is in our national interest, as well as the best interest of students, for talented individuals from a variety of backgrounds to receive a close look and a fair chance at overcoming obstacles to higher education. Providing a diverse learning environment benefits everyone. The University of Texas’s Admission plan, which was at the heart of the case, is one that was carefully crafted to meet the goal of ensuring the educational benefits of diversity on its campus. The Fisher decision says to America’s educational, business, and other institutions that they should be pursing fair and thoughtful ways of fostering diverse participation, and that doing so is not only beneficial, but constitutional as well.
This is the second time the Supreme Court had ruled on the Fisher case; in the first decision, issued in 2013, the Court decided that any consideration of race, while legal, had to be “narrowly tailored.” In the 2013 case, as in the more recent 2016 case, Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because of prior involvement in the case before she came to the Supreme Court. The case was heard a second time because the defendant claimed that the University of Texas did not use race in a “narrowly tailored” manner.
The NAACP Legal Department, working with the Texas State Conference, filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief both times the U.S. Supreme Court heard the Fisher case. The brief argued in support of the University’s decision to use race as a factor when making its admissions decisions, as part of a wholistic review of each applicant, in a small portion of freshman admissions to the flagship campus. The NAACP argued the consideration of race was permissible because the University has satisfied each of the Court’s requirements for “narrow-tailoring” in its use of race in equal opportunity programs such as Affirmative Action. The NAACP also argued the State’s long history of racial discrimination in public higher education and in K-12 education was context for the “narrow-tailoring” argument.