December 09, 2015

Statement of Paulette Brown, president, American Bar Association Re: The U.S. Supreme Court arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2015 — This morning, I had the opportunity to attend oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The arguments advanced by the lawyers on behalf of the University of Texas were extremely convincing. Despite considerable progress in terms of diversity and inclusion, admissions policies that consider race as one factor among many remain crucial for the advancement of racial and ethnic diversity at colleges and universities and other similar institutions. 

This case is of paramount importance to the legal profession. The American Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in this case to emphasize the vital role that admissions policies like this play in breaking down implicit racial bias and stereotypes that too often result in racially disparate outcomes in our justice system and in areas of public policy where lawyers play a pivotal role.

Undergraduate admissions policies like UT-Austin’s are critical for increasing the number of students of color in the pipeline to law schools and the legal profession, and critical for ensuring that legal and political institutions fully reflect and represent all members of society. A diverse legal profession helps to demonstrate that the path to leadership is open to all citizens, and that the justice system serves the public in a fair and inclusive manner.

Over the past half-century, admissions programs like the one at issue here have enabled meaningful progress in diversifying the legal profession and creating educational environments that help to dismantle racial bias. But much progress remains to be made. Through this case, the American Bar Association hopes the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirms that admissions policies that take race into account as just one factor out of many are consistent with the principles espoused for many years in the court’s jurisprudence, and advance the compelling interest of diversity in higher education.

The American Bar Association amicus brief is here.

Please click here for a biography and photo of Paulette Brown, president of the American Bar Association.

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