Wei LAB Director and Chief Research Scientist Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson submitted to the Brief of 823 Social Scientists as Amici Curiae presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in November, 2015. This brief provides collaborative, empirical evidence, and key findings that support “colleges’ rights to consider race as one of the many factors in selecting students.” This brief also represents a surge in support of diversity efforts as signers represent 237 universities and research enterprises across the United States, an increase from the 444 signers of the 2012 brief.
The Supreme Court, for the second time, is hearing the lawsuit Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. This “rare” second consideration will review the court’s decision on the educational value of student body diversity and the “non–racial ways to attain it.” After being denied admissions to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008, Abigail Fisher, a white student who argued that “who would not have been admitted even if there was no consideration of race,” blamed UT’s affirmative action program and sued the University. After being unable to prove discrimination in court, the federal district court rejected her lawsuit.
Fisher appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the prior ruling. In a last attempt, Fisher’s lawyers brought the case to the Supreme Court, which saw a 7-1 decision, which sent the case back to the 5th Circuit for another hearing. This time Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that the university had not proved “its admissions program [was] narrowly tailored to obtain the education benefits of diversity.”
The 5th Circuit returned to the case in 2013. “It is equally settled that universities may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity,” wrote the 2-1 majority. Fisher proceeded to appeal to the Supreme Court again. Fisher has since graduated from another university.
“As social science researchers, we are increasingly called upon to lend our research and voices to important discourse that will shape the future direction of decision-making in the nation,” Jackson said.
The Wei LAB is committed to equity and inclusion in education and is interested in your thoughts on Affirmative Action in higher education. Please join the discussion on social media on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter using #AffirmativeAction.