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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Encourages the Supreme Court to Uphold Race Conscious Admissions

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin for the second time in three years, which challenges race conscious admissions. In 2013, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that diversity is a compelling state interest and that universities may consider race as one of many factors in a narrowly tailored admissions policy. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) submitted an amicus brief with the Supreme Court emphasizing the importance of race on college campuses.

Following today’s oral arguments in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Lawyers’ Committee issued the following statement from Brenda Shum, director of the Educational Opportunities Project:

“We are confident based on the courts questions and comments that the Supreme Court remains committed to the states’ compelling interest in the educational benefits of diversity in higher education. We believe that the record shows that the University’s holistic process is a necessary complement to the top 10 percent plan. In the event that the Court does not agree, any perceived inadequacies in the record can be remedied by remand to the district court.”


For over 30 years, colleges and universities have relied on Supreme Court precedent which firmly established the constitutionality of the narrowly tailored use of race in admissions. While specific to the University of Texas, the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University Texas at Austin may change the way that universities across the country consider race in college admissions. For the second time, the Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the University’s holistic admissions policy, which considers race as one of many factors.

The challenge to the University of Texas plan is based on the assumption that nonracial alternatives can achieve sufficient levels of diversity without any consideration of race. However, there is considerable research that shows that suggested alternatives to the University’s holistic admissions policy, including the top 10 percent plan, the use of socioeconomic status, outreach and marketing, and targeted recruitment, do not achieve meaningful levels of racial diversity on campus. Studies show that replacing holistic admissions with percentage plans would not restore the number of students of color to a level which have been achieved under race conscious admissions policies.