The NAACP Files Amicus Brief Supporting the University of Texas at Austin’s Admission Policy

(Washington, DC) – The NAACP, Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches and University of Oregon School of Law Professor Barbara Bader Aldave have filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, et al.  The Court’s decision could significantly impact admissions policies at public colleges and universities.  NAACP Legal Department prepared the brief with the assistance of attorney Gary Bledsoe and global law firm DLA Piper LLP (US).   The brief supports the University of Texas at Austin’s admission policy.  

A link to the brief can be found here.

 “Texas has an ugly legacy of de jure and de facto discrimination at all levels of public education,” stated NAACP General Counsel Kim M. Keenan. “The University of Texas’s admission policy is narrowly tailored to eliminate the continuing effects of that legacy.  The policy is individualized and considers race simply as a factor of a factor of a factor.”

The brief emphasizes several key points.  First, the brief argues that Texas’s long history of state-sponsored segregation necessitates its actions to remedy the lasting effects.  The NAACP’s brief outlines Texas’s history of segregation and Texas’s failure to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The NAACP further asserts that “the mere adoption of racially neutral policies for prospective application is not an adequate remedy to the consequences of past discriminatory conduct.”

Second, the brief explains that the “University of Texas’s admission policy is constitutional because it is narrowly tailored to eradicate the vestiges of Texas’s prior official policy of discrimination.”  More specifically, the NAACP contends that the “program considers race as only one factor among many, in the context of ‘truly individualized’ evaluation of each applicant for admission to the University of Texas.”

“I am disappointed that the Court granted the petition for certiorari in this case so soon after Grutter v. Bollinger and Bollinger v. Gratz.,” stated Texas State Conference NAACP President Gary L. Bledsoe.  “Hopefully, when making its decision, the Court will consider the University of Texas’s long history of segregation and the lingering effects of such discrimination.”

Additionally, it asserts that The University of Texas’s (UT’s) admission policy has no racial preference and caused no injury in fact to Petitioner Abigail Noel Fisher.  The overwhelming majority of applicants are selected without any consideration of race.  For fewer than 10 percent of the applicants, race is merely a factor of a factor which can positively impact applicants of all races, including white applicants.  Moreover, since the Petitioner’s academic index (AI) was not within the required range, she would not have been admitted to the UT regardless of her race.  AI includes the applicant’s class rank and ACT/SAT scores.

Finally, the brief explains how ignoring race would force UT to ignore the accomplishments of racial minorities.

DLA Piper LLP Partner Anthony Ashton noted, “DLA Piper considers it an honor to have worked with the NAACP on this brief of historical importance.  The future of higher education in our nation is at stake, and we hope that our work will help the U.S. Supreme Court reach the correct decision.”

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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