Asian American Civil Rights Groups to File Amicus Briefs Urging Supreme Court to Uphold Affirmative Action in Fisher v. Texas
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the Asian
American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) — Asian American
Institute (AAI), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian Law Caucus (ALC)
and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) — announced they will file
amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold University of Texas at
Austin’s (UT-Austin) affirmative action policy in the upcoming case Fisher v.
University of Texas at Austin.
“We stand in favor of affirmative action’s continued benefits for Asian American
and Pacific Islander (AAPI) achievement – including enabling underrepresented
AAPIs to achieve equal access to college, reducing the isolation of students of
color on campus, and preparing youth to be leaders in our multicultural
society,” said Khin Mai Aung, Director of the Educational Equity Program at
Under UT-Austin’s current admissions policy, the majority (e.g., 86 percent in
2009) of freshmen are admitted under the state’s Top Ten Percent plan – a policy
that guarantees admission to public (and many private) high school seniors in
the top 10 percent of their class, based solely on grades and not on other
aspects of merit like leadership abilities, pursuit of extracurricular
activities, and overcoming of adversity. The university bases remaining
admissions on applicants’ academic rankings, performance, and a holistic,
individualized review that takes into account race and other diversity factors,
leadership experience, extracurricular activities, and socio-economic status.
UT-Austin’s policy was fashioned to comply with the Supreme Court’s 2003
Grutter v. Bollinger decision, which held that race can be one of many factors
considered to attain campus diversity.
The Supreme Court in Grutter recognized that numerous racial and ethnic groups
continue to face obstacles to higher education. For example, based on the 2000
Census, 59.6 percent of Hmong Americans, 53.3 percent of Cambodian Americans,
49.6 percent of Laotian Americans, and 38.1 percent of Vietnamese Americans
received less than a high school education, compared to only 19.6 percent of
white Americans. These numbers, together with the fact that K-12 schools are
more segregated today than they were 40 years ago, reflect unequal access to
educational opportunities along racial lines.
“If the Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action and diversity policies
like the one in place at UT-Austin, overall diversity at colleges and graduate
schools would diminish across the country. Much more must be done to overcome
the increasing racial segregation of our schools and to provide equal
educational opportunity to qualified students,” said Meredith Higashi, AAJC
“Racial segregation and discrimination continue to impede access to educational
opportunity in this country. Because race still matters, considering race as one
of several factors in a holistic, individualized review of university applicants
is critical to mitigating barriers to higher education faced by qualified
applicants from underrepresented groups, including certain Asian American
sub-groups,” said APALC Litigation Director Laboni Hoq.