Hundreds of major US companies and universities, including Apple, Google and seven Ivy League schools, have asked the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in amicus briefs filed this week as justices prepare to hear lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. .
Sixty briefs were filed with the court representing more than 2,300 entities, including major corporations, Democratic lawmakers, military officials and civil rights leaders. The Biden administration has also submitted a brief asking the court not to remove the affirmative action.
Just under 80 Democratic officials have signed memoranda supporting Harvard and UNC, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California) and Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren. A range of industry giants have also backed the schools, including American Airlines, Uber, Starbucks, Meta, General Electric and General Motors.
The filings come a week after Harvard and UNC asked the court to allow colleges and universities to consider race in their admissions processes. The schools are both being sued by the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions, which alleges they unlawfully discriminate against Asian American applicants.
The SFFA, which first sued Harvard in 2014, in May asked the Supreme Court to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, the landmark 2003 decision that allowed colleges and universities to consider race when making admissions decisions. Two lower courts have already ruled in favor of Harvard.
The Supreme Court agreed to take the SFFA lawsuits against Harvard and UNC jointly in January, but reversed course and separated the cases last month. More than 80 Republican lawmakers had already filed briefs supporting the SFFA in May.
Numerous amicus briefs have made similar arguments, telling judges that race-conscious admissions to colleges play a crucial role in promoting racial diversity.
The Biden administration argued in a 45-page filing submitted Monday that the Supreme Court should uphold precedent allowing race-conscious admissions, writing that “the educational benefits of diversity remain a compelling interest of vital importance to United States”.
In a separate filing, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar asked to participate in court pleadings this fall, noting that Harvard, UNC and SFFA all consented to the motion.
Attorneys general from 19 states and Washington, DC, filed briefs supporting Harvard and UNC. Twenty states had filed briefs in support of SFFA by May.
Twenty-five organizations of Harvard students and alumni, represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, wrote in a brief filed last week that “racially aware admissions are as important as ever – to ensure the ‘[e]effective participation of members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation.
“America especially thrives when all of its children know they too can sue and be rewarded for their hard work,” said Harold S. Lewis ’85, vice president of the First Generation Harvard Alumni Group, who signed the amicus brief.
More than 30 senior US military officials also filed a brief asking the court to uphold the affirmative action. The group, which includes four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the judges that “diversity in the officer corps is more than a laudable goal, it’s a strategic imperative.”
“History has shown that placing diverse armed forces under the command of a cohesive leadership is a recipe for internal resentment, discord and violence,” the officials wrote. “In contrast, units that are diverse at all levels are more cohesive, collaborative and effective.”
Several civil rights organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU, also filed briefs supporting affirmative action.
In two separate papers, 80 major corporations argued that race-conscious admissions to colleges play a vital role in nurturing business leaders.
The companies wrote that they “are strengthened when their team members and leaders have rich, individualized experiences with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. A college education remains a critical medium for meeting this need.”
More than 100 colleges and universities have petitioned the court to allow them to continue to use race in their admissions processes.
Fifteen elite institutions – including the other seven Ivy League schools – wrote in a filing that a ruling in favor of the SFFA “would break with this Court’s long tradition of giving universities wide latitude in their educational judgments – a tradition that protects the universities’ own constitutional interests. as well as the status of American higher education as the envy of the world.
MIT and Stanford filed a brief with technology companies IBM and Aeris that emphasized the importance of racial diversity in STEM education and industry.
The University of California and University of Michigan systems — which are prohibited by state law from considering race in admissions — also submitted pro-affirmative action briefs to the court.
“The University’s 15-year experiment on race-neutral admissions is therefore a cautionary tale that underscores the compelling need for selective universities to be able to consider race as one of many background factors regarding applicants. “, wrote the University of Michigan.
Harvard College spokeswoman Rachael Dane and SFFA founder Edward J. Blum both declined to comment on the filings.
The SFFA’s response to Harvard is due to the Supreme Court by August 25. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case early in its fall term this year.
—Writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at [email protected]
—Editor Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at [email protected]