The organization, joined by UNC and Harvard alumni, emphasized the necessity of race-conscious admissions for the betterment of all students, professionals, and democracy at large.
WASHINGTON–On October 31, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will argue in front of the Supreme Court to defend race-conscious admissions in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v University of North Carolina (UNC). This case, alongside the companion case Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, threatens to reverse over 45-years of established legal precedent and progress made to make higher education more equitable and accessible to Black and Brown students.
Yesterday, Damon Hewitt, Lawyers’ Committee President and David Hinojosa, Director of the Educational Opportunities Project at Lawyers’ Committee held a press conference to preview Hinojosa’s strategy for the case. Hewitt and Hinojosa discussed how although affirmative action is a racial justice issue, race-conscious admissions policies benefit students from all backgrounds, and are critical for forming a pipeline of diverse professionals to excel in our pluralistic, global society.
“If we think we’ve made progress since the Fisher cases [Fisher v. University of Texas], if we think we’ve made progress since Grutter [Grutter v. Bollinger], if we think we’ve made progress since Bakke [Regents of the University of California v. Bakke], if we think we’ve made progress since Brown v Board of Education, what’s at stake here today is whether that progress can continue or whether the clock gets rolled back. Race-conscious admissions are not about guaranteeing access or giving extra points. It is acknowledging we want to see applicants for their whole selves, for their true selves. It is to strive for campuses that reflect the diversity of our country,” said Damon Hewitt.
“[Without affirmative action] the substantial benefits of diversity would be put at risk,” said David Hinojosa. “There hasn’t been a good substitute for race identified in any of these universities certainly. It is critical that the court affirm opportunity, affirm race-conscious admissions, and allow this to be decided on a case by case basis at universities.”
The Lawyers’ Committee was joined by two of its clients in these cases, who are now alumnae of the universities–Cecilia Polanco (UNC ‘16) and Sally Chen (Harvard ‘19), who testified in the UNC and Harvard cases, respectively.
“Part of why I became part of this case is because we need it as a corrective practice for the inequities in our society. If racism wasn’t so pervasive, maybe we wouldn’t need something like affirmative action–but it is, and we do.” said Cecilia Polanco.
“Asian Americans are not your model minority and we won’t be used against other communities of color for the rolling back of our fundamental rights,” said Sally Chen. “Polling consistently shows Asian Americans support affirmative action for all communities of color. The recent uptick in violence toward Asian Americans reflects our need for affirmative action to also support Asian communities,”
On October 31, students from college campuses across the country and allied racial justice organizations plan to rally in support of affirmative action near the Supreme Court steps. Advocates, students, and alumni will give remarks in support of race-conscious admissions policies and the positive impact they have on campuses, the professional world, and democracy at large.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.