Update: June 29, 2023 – The Supreme Court ruled today to restrict the consideration of race in college and university admissions processes. As outlined powerfully in the dissent opinions by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Jackson, the majority ignores decades of precedent and the reality of continued racism in our nation. We must all continue to support a range of efforts to help promote diversity and inclusion in higher education.

On August 1, 2022, the National Women’s Law Center, along with our law firm partner, Linklaters LLP, and 37 additional civil rights organizations, filed an amicus brief in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina in support of the universities and their race-conscious admissions policies.

The two affirmative action cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) challenge the holistic admissions policies used by Harvard College and the University of North Carolina (UNC), which consider race as one factor in order to create a diverse student body. The lawsuits claim that Harvard and UNC are discriminating against Asian American applicants by using race-conscious admissions policies, even though there is no evidence that this is true. SFFA asks the Supreme Court to overturn well-settled precedent in order to prohibit universities from considering race whatsoever in admissions processes, no matter the significant harms that would result for students of color.

Our amicus brief defends the universities’ interest in maintaining a diverse student body and ensuring that past discrimination does not perpetuate ongoing exclusion. The brief specifically highlights the ways that affirmative action policies are necessary for addressing race and sex discrimination based on stereotypes and the effects of historic and current discrimination that uniquely harm women of color, who continue to remain underrepresented in higher education and across various fields. Diversity in higher education benefits all students and society as a whole by breaking down harmful stereotypes, fostering the exchange of ideas on campus, and preparing students for a diverse workforce. By highlighting the important benefits of student body diversity created by affirmative action policies, we urge the Court not to overrule or otherwise narrow decades of precedent upholding such policies.

To learn more, check out our blog post.