Diversity in Higher Education Matters: Fisher v. University of Texas

Diversity in High Education Matters

Boston, MA – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will once again take up the issue of affirmative action in higher education, as it hears oral argument in the Fisher v. University of Texas case.

At the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, we believe strongly and unequivocally that colleges and universities must retain the ability to consider race as one of many factors in creating a diverse student body.

Together with our pro bono partners at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., we filed our own amicus brief in the Fisher case to counter the so-called “mismatch hypothesis,” which posits that affirmative action is harmful to students of color. Our clients are leading scholars from Harvard, Stanford, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and other prominent institutions of higher learning, who have thoroughly debunked this theory through rigorous empirical studies.  In our brief, we bring this body of research to the Supreme Court’s attention and highlight the significant methodological flaws in the “mismatch” research.

We are proud to be presenting this research to the Court, and proud to be joining other allies who are emphasizing – from a wide variety of other perspectives – why diversity in higher education matters.  These groups include leading businesses, social scientists, college basketball coaches, and the family of Heman Sweatt, the man whose Supreme Court case in 1950 desegregated the law school at the University of Texas.

Just three years ago, in an earlier appeal in this same case, the Supreme Court re-affirmed the ability of colleges and universities to consider race as one of many factors in assembling a diverse student body.  We are heartened that a broad cross-section of America has come forward to reaffirm once again that diversity matters.

The principles at issue in Fisher are at the core of the Lawyers’ Committee’s work, from our historic work desegregating Boston’s public schools, to our current efforts to protect Harvard’s diversity plan in a challenge brought by the group behind Fisher.

We know that, when students from different walks of life learn with and from each other, they are better prepared for success in our increasingly diverse and interconnected world.

Counsel from the Lawyers’ Committee includes Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Oren Sellstrom, and Matthew Cregor. Counsel from Mintz Levin includes A.W. Phinney III, Yalonda Howze, Colin G. Van Dyke, and Mathilda S. McGee-Tubb.

Click here to read our brief in Fisher.