Statement by Civil Rights Project on Fisher Decision
STATEMENT BY CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT ON FISHER DECISION
June 23, 2016
Today’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin is an historic reaffirmation of affirmative action as a necessary tool for creating diverse campuses that enrich the educational experience of all students. The Court rejected the argument that the University could accomplish this goal without any consideration of 1) the race or ethnicity of students and, 2) the University’s thoughtful process and compliance with the standards the Supreme Court set in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case from the University of Michigan. Many scholarly organizations, including the American Educational Research Association, and leading researchers, have played an important role in developing scientific evidence on these issues. The Civil Rights Project brought together a team of outstanding researchers who worked for months with our Counsel of Record, Professor Liliana Garces, to prepare two major briefs in this case. We were deeply honored when 823 scholars from every part of the country signed the second brief.
The Civil Rights Project was founded 20 years ago following the end of affirmative action in the nation’s two largest states. Our first meeting was a coming together of college presidents, researchers, civil rights leaders, and public officials, which showed a failure of the research community to strongly address the issues that would decide the affirmative action battle. We have consistently worked on those issues throughout the life of the Project, holding many conferences, commissioning a number of major studies, publishing five books resulting from this work, and working with scholars to file a series of briefs in the Supreme Court, including the Brief of Social Science Researchers (2012) and the Brief of 823 Social Scientists as Amici Curiae (2015) in this case. Our research was cited in 2003 by the Supreme Court in the decisive Grutter v. Bollinger case supporting affirmative action, helping create the foundation for a central element in justifying affirmative action -- the compelling interest in the educational value of diversity for all students.
Today’s decision strongly addresses the other key element, finding that affirmative action is a necessary and appropriate tool for creating that diversity and setting reasonable standards for universities in justifying the use of this tool. This was the central issue in our briefs, which explored the best scientific evidence and concluded that there is no feasible alternative to affirmative action in realizing this very important goal. We greatly appreciate the work of all the scholars and advocates who joined in this effort and see this as a day of celebration for American higher education.
The decision means that the large majority of the nation’s selective universities, which have found affirmative action to be essential, can continue their policies by meeting the reasonable processes followed by the University of Texas for documenting its necessity.
Attend a public briefing in Washington, DC and discuss the issues. See Below.
What the Supreme Court’s Ruling Means for Students, Colleges, and the Country
The briefing is directed to the media, higher education officers, educational and professional organizations, human resource leaders, and other public audiences interested in better understanding the implications of Fisher. Considerable time will be allocated for questions from attendees.
This event is organized by the American Educational Research Association (AERA).
Panelists will include:
- Gary Orfield, Distinguished Research Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA
- Theodore M. Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights
- Stella M. Flores, Associate Professor of Higher Education at New York University, and Director of Access and Equity at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at NYU
- Liliana M. Garces, Assistant Professor in the Higher Education Program and Research Associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University; Counsel of Record, Brief of 823 Social Scientists as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents
- Angelo N. Ancheta, Counsel of Record for the American Educational Research Association et al. Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents
- Felice J. Levine, Executive Director of the American Educational Research Association (Moderator)
Audience Q&A will follow speaker presentations.