Amicus Brief, Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Amicus Brief, Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

The United States Student Association (“USSA”), the nation’s oldest and largest student- run, student-led organization, is comprised of more than four million students with diverse backgrounds who are currently enrolled in American colleges and universities.2 USSA submits this brief as amicus curiae in support of Respondents University of Texas at Austin, et al., urging the Court to affirm the Fifth Circuit’s judgment that the promotion of diversity in higher education is a compelling government interest and that the holistic admissions process used by the University of Texas at Austin (“UT”), which allows the consideration of race and ethnic origin as one of a multitude of factors in selecting a diverse study body, complies with the Equal Protection Clause.

As the nation’s official student voice, consisting of undergraduate, graduate and professional students in colleges and universities across the country, USSA has an important and substantial interest in this case.3 Amicus submits this brief to express to the Court its strong belief, based on the experience of its millions of members, that a student body that is both academically qualified and broadly diverse provides invaluable educational, social and professional benefits, and that an admissions program such as that adopted by UT will advance those compelling interests.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

Nine years ago, the Supreme Court recognized that public institutions of higher education have a compelling government interest in a diverse student body that permits them to consider race and ethnicity as one, non-predominant factor among many in admissions. Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 328 (2003). The Court noted the “important and laudable” benefits stemming from a diverse student body, which Amicus believes are even more “important and laudable” in today’s more diverse America.

Amicus is uniquely situated to comment on the value of diversity in higher education today as its student body members both experience the benefits of diversity and suffer from its absence. Studies published after the decision in Grutter have confirmed what the Court recognized and Amicus knows as a matter of fact—that students benefit in at least three ways from greater diversity both in and out of the classroom. First, student body diversity exposes students to a robust exchange of ideas which promotes better learning outcomes. Second, diversity prepares students to become civic leaders. Third, diversity better prepares students as professionals to meet the challenges of a multi- cultural workforce in an increasingly global economy.

Amicus believes that Grutter is, and must remain, good law as the Fifth Circuit held. If the Fifth Circuit judgment is reversed, public institutions of higher education will fail to attract a critical mass of racially diverse students. College students nationwide will be deprived of experiencing the full “diffusion of knowledge and opportunity” that should be available through public institutions of higher education (Grutter, 539 U.S. at 331) and the diverse learning environment and rich exchange of ideas they need to maximize their opportunities for civic leadership and professional success. As the Court recognized in Grutter, access to education “must be inclusive of talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity, so that all members of our heterogeneous society may participate in the educational institutions that provide the training and education necessary to succeed in America.” Id. at 332-33.

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