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October 4, 2022

Majority of amicus briefs address support University in Fisher v. UT case

Charlie Pearce

Over 70 percent of the briefs filed in the Fisher v. University of Texas case support the University and its affirmative action policies. 

Outside of Fisher, the petitioner, and UT, the respondent, a total of 92 briefs have been filed in the case according to SCOTUSblog. Sixty-seven groups support the
University while 22 support Fisher. Three briefs were in favor of neither party.

The case, which is being heard for the second time in the Supreme Court, aims to determine the constitutionality of considering race as a factor during the admissions process at public universities. Abigail Fisher, a white applicant, was not admitted to UT in 2008 and argues she was denied admission based on her race.

The American Civil Rights Union, one of the eight Fisher supporters, filed a brief on March 16, 2015, and said they are arguing against the “liberal/left ‘progressives’” in colleges today.

“These so called ‘progressive’ elitists display a religious devotion to permanent racial preferences and quotas,” the Union brief says. “They intend to evade any rulings from this Court to phase down racial preferences and quotas, with fanciful rationales … which would prefer students from black middle class and upper middle class, over students from the white middle class and upper middle class, or even over black students from poor or even working class parents.”

On Nov. 2, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a brief on behalf of the Black Student Alliance at UT and the Black-Ex Students of Texas stating race must continue to be a factor for admissions at UT. Even with the top percent rule, some improvements such as applicants writing essays during the admissions process could contribute to the diversity of the student population, the brief reads.

“The shortfalls of this race-neutral experiment demonstrate why this Court should defer to UT’s judgment that some measure of race-consciousness is necessary for it to attain a critical mass of students of color and to maintain flexibility in defining the dimensions of the diversity that furthers its educational mission,” the student alliance and ex students said in their brief.

Also on Nov. 2, 16 former UT student government presidents, as well as current SG president Xavier Rotnofsky, filed a brief detailing the presence and absence of diversity during their times in office.

“A diverse graduating class is particularly vital for large public universities like UT, whose graduates overwhelmingly fill the ranks of state legislatures and judiciaries,” the presidents’ brief said. “Given this critical leadership development function, it is sensible and desirable that UT seek to bring together potential leaders from different backgrounds, races, and parts of the state and the world.”

With the Hispanic population as the largest racial minority in Texas, the National and Texas Latino Organizations filed a brief stating the admissions process is narrowly tailored based on the law and limits the number of minority students that can be admitted. According to the organization’s brief, the Latino population in Texas is 39 percent and the majority of children in the state are Latino.

“The failure to incorporate fully the Latino population in all facets of Texas society — from the military, to the private sector, to government and the State’s top universities — will impede the prosperity of the state as a whole,” the Latino organizations’ brief reads. “‘[T]o cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry,’ positions of leadership must be visibly open to people of every race and ethnicity.”

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument from both Fisher and the University’s parties on Dec. 9. 

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Majority of amicus briefs address support University in Fisher v. UT case