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Civil Rights Organizations & Allies Join Fight to Protect Affirmative Action College Policies

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 1, 2022

Contact:
Sarai Bejarano | [email protected] | 212-739-7581
Stephen Clark | [email protected] | 212- 209-4932
 

Civil Rights Organizations & Allies Join Fight to Protect Affirmative Action College Policies
Amici Brief Filed in Cases Brought by Students for Fair Admissions Inc. in SFFA v. Harvard/UNC

New York, NY – LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a national civil and human rights organization, along with co-counsel Brown Rudnick LLP, filed an amici brief supporting the long-standing practices of appropriately tailored race-conscious admissions at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. 

The cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions Inc., SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC,  are lawsuits challenging institutions of higher education’s consideration of race as a factor in admissions. The appellant, SFFA, asks the Supreme Court to overturn long standing precedent permitting colleges to use narrowly tailored race conscious admissions policies in higher education.

The amici brief, which has been joined by 19 organizations (listed below), argues that a colorblind interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause is inconsistent with the history and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment and that obtaining the educational benefits of diversity remains a compelling government interest. Amici also argue that using race-conscious admissions processes in higher education has lasting positive impacts in both the diversity of colleges and universities across the nation and, by extension, workforces, for the foreseeable future.

“Colleges and universities need flexibility to admit a class of students from racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse backgrounds,” said Francisca Fajana, Director of Racial Justice Strategy, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Much progress has been made toward opening doors of opportunity for communities that have historically been shut out, but much more must be done to achieve the equitable and fair society we all strive for; which is why we are supporting intervenors, Harvard and UNC in this battle."

For decades, Harvard College, the University of North Carolina, and hundreds of colleges and universities across the country have considered race, along with a host of other factors, in deciding who to admit, with the goal of bringing and maintaining a diverse mix of students to their campuses.

“Unfortunately, persistent and pervasive racial inequities endure, preventing historically underrepresented groups from fully and effectively participating in many facets of American society,” said Elizabeth Ritvo, who led the Brown Rudnick team that worked on the brief. The team also included Luis Vargas Rivera, Joshua Dunn and Yarelyn Mena. “Education plays a critical role in efforts to eliminate these disparities.  We believe diversity remains vital to our country’s future, and we are committed to expanding diversity both in higher education and in the legal profession.”

Data shows that Harvard College receives and reviews more than 60,000 applications each year for approximately 2,000 offers of admission to an incoming class. The amici and supporting organizations believe that without the fair shot that holistic admissions enables, a substantial number of hard working Latino and other students of color would be shut out of selective colleges and universities, through no fault of their own.

In 2014, SFFA sued Harvard and, separately, UNC, arguing that institutions of higher education cannot use race as a factor in admissions. In the alternative, SFFA argued that each institution impermissibly used race as a factor in its admissions process when other, facially neutral actions would accomplish the same goals. SFFA lost in both the district court and First Circuit Court of Appeals in its challenge of Harvard’s policies. SFFA also lost in the district court in the case against UNC. SFFA then filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court in the Harvard case and, shortly after, filed another petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court in the UNC case. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear both cases.

The case will not be heard until the Supreme Court’s next session, which begins in October 2022. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court would issue a decision by sometime in June 2023.

Supporting Organizations:
The American G.I. Forum (AGIF)
ASPIRA Association (ASPIRA)
ASPIRA of New York (ASPIRA of NY)
Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU)
Hispanic Federation, Inc. (HF)
The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
MANA, A National Latina Organization
Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC)
The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI)
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL)

The National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA)
National Latinx Psychological Association (NLPA)
New York Communities for Change (NYCC)
Parents Leading for Educational Equity (PLEE)
SER Jobs For Progress National, Inc. (SER)
United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI)

Additional Materials:
- Amicus Brief HERE 

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About LatinoJustice
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org

About Brown Rudnick LLP
Brown Rudnick is an international law firm that serves clients around the world from offices in key financial centers across the United States and Europe. We combine ingenuity with experience to achieve great outcomes for our clients. We deliver partner-driven service; we incentivize our lawyers to collaborate in the client’s best interest; and we put excellence before scale, focusing on industry-driven, client-facing practices where we are recognized leaders.