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Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley, Jr., the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law, on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 14 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding affirmative action, and in Justice Breyer’s dissent (joined by three other Justices) to its 2007 Parents Involved in Community Schools decision, cited the Civil Rights Project’s research.

Cover page of Brief of 823 Social Scientists as Amici Curiae

Brief of 823 Social Scientists as Amici Curiae

(2015)

Social science research strongly supports the Fifth Circuit’s conclusion that the holistic consideration of race in admissions is a necessary complement to the percent plan for UT Austin to further its educational mission. UT Austin has a compelling interest in creating a meaningful level of inclusion of students from different racial groups and generating rich diversity to dispel racial stereotypes and foster educational excellence.

A substantial body of rigorous social science research supports the Fifth Circuit’s conclusion that the extensive outreach and recruitment efforts UT Austin implemented to obtain racial diversity under the percent plan, on their own, have not been sufficient complements to the percent plan to achieve UT Austin’s educational mission. The claim that the percent plan is an effective alternative to a race- sensitive admissions policy relies on the Petitioner’s effort to problematically lump African American and Latino students into a single category, concealing important differences related to the workability of the plan for each group. The percent plan, which relies on segregated school attendance patterns in the state, has not yielded the desired results at UT Austin. Whereas as a complement to the plan, the individualized consideration of race has enabled UT Austin to create a more stimulating and productive educational environment for all of its students.

UT Austin’s experience with the percent plan and analyses based on statistical simulations for other states show that percent plans alone, even in states where secondary schooling is largely segregated by race (as it is in Texas), do not yield the level of diversity needed to obtain the educational benefits of diversity. Giving weight to socioeconomic status alone does not produce the diversity needed to further UT Austin’s academic mission, and relying largely or solely on socioeconomic status to achieve diversity is not a feasible alternative. The extensive experience of selective colleges and universities using alternatives to race-sensitive admissions decisions in other states, including California and Michigan, underscores the need for UT Austin’s holistic policy. This evidence compels the conclusion that there are no effective substitutes for race-sensitive admissions decisions in generating the diversity required to further UT Austin’s educational mission.

There are great costs in not considering race in admissions in the narrowly tailored manner that UT Austin employs. Research on the impact of laws that ban the consideration of race in admissions shows that at selective schools these bans have led to de- clines in racial and ethnic student body diversity, including in the important fields of medicine, law, business, and science. Not only do these declines degrade the educational experiences of students, but they harm the nation’s future. Research shows that barring the kind of consideration that UT Austin gives race in its holistic admissions system cannot only isolate and stigmatize admitted students, but may also harm race relations by limiting cross campus racial integration and preventing institutions from addressing and countering the ways in which race shapes the educational experiences of all students.

Cover page of Amicus Brief in Schuette Case

Amicus Brief in Schuette Case

(2013)

In this brief, the CRP does not address how social science research relates to the constitutionality of race-conscious higher education admissions policies, as the Court has already made its determination in Fisher v. Univ. of Tex., 133 S. Ct. 2411 (2013), Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), and Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978). Instead, through the evidence provided in this brief, amicus seeks to ensure the constitutional guarantee of a fair political process under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Michigan’s Ballot Proposal 06-02 (Proposal 2) violates constitutional principles of equal protection by the way it selectively imposes burdens on advocates of constitutionally permissible race-conscious policies, while leaving to the ordinary political process advocacy on behalf of policies that consider any and all other factors.

Race-conscious policies not only promote better learning environments and outcomes for all students by enhancing diversity, they also benefit racial minorities in particular by offsetting existing severe structural racial inequities in education and promoting access to educational programs that are the first step along a critical pathway to business, academic, civic, and political leadership in the United States and throughout the world. Research has consistently demonstrated that racially focused constraints on admissions, like Proposal 2, have, among other consequences, reduced the admission and enrollment of racial minorities at selective public undergraduate institutions, in graduate programs, and in training programs for the professions of medicine, law, and business. These substantial drops have occurred despite the best efforts of colleges and universities to recruit students through extensive outreach and the consideration of race-neutral characteristics in ad- missions decisions, such as socioeconomic disadvantage.

Petitioner’s claims that Proposal 2 does not harm racial minorities ignores the real-world consequences that a decline in campus racial diversity has for students of color, including how racially isolating environments can undermine learning and persistence. The claims by Petitioner and his supporting amici curiae that Proposal 2 in fact benefits racial minorities by preventing them from being admitted to selective institutions where they are academically “mismatched” and cannot compete are strongly refuted by the weight of scientific evidence. Reliable social science research consistently shows that racial minority students admitted to the most selective universities under race-conscious policies have higher completion rates than similar students enrolled in less selective institutions. Furthermore, minority students attending selective institutions are more likely than their fellow white students to be leaders in their chosen professions and in activities that aid communities of color and contribute to the well-being of the larger society. Bans on race-conscious admissions therefore harm the long-term community interests of minorities and undermine the nation’s interest in reducing inequality and in preparing its citizens for life in an increasingly diverse world.

Cover page of The Research Basis for Affirmative Action: A Statement by Leading Researchers

The Research Basis for Affirmative Action: A Statement by Leading Researchers

(2013)

CRP offers the following brief summary of major research findings to help university leaders and communities formulate plans and justifications that both satisfy the legal requisites of strict scrutiny and have a firm grounding in research.

Cover page of Statement of Nation’s Leading Constitutional Law Scholars on U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling

Statement of Nation’s Leading Constitutional Law Scholars on U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling

(2013)

The undersigned scholars have created an independent assessment of the ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas, at Austin, announced June 24, 2013 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The statement hails the reaffirmation of the precedents of the last 35 years supporting affirmative action, and concludes that there is no reason for colleges to abandon their programs. The statement also advises universities that they will need to provide ongoing documentation of the reasons for their plan and that their consideration of race is carried out to the degree necessary to achieve diversity.

Cover page of Statement on the Development of the Brief of American Social Science Researchers in Fisher v. University of Texas

Statement on the Development of the Brief of American Social Science Researchers in Fisher v. University of Texas

(2012)

On August 9, 2012, scholars from 172 universities and research centers in 42 states  joined together in a brief summarizing key research on affirmative action for the U.S. Supreme Court in the context of the Fisher v. University of Texas case. The entire brief can be read here. For additional resources on the case, see Resources Related to Fisher v. University of Texas.

http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/

Cover page of Brief of American Social Science Researchers in Fisher v. University of Texas

Brief of American Social Science Researchers in Fisher v. University of Texas

(2012)

American social scientists from all parts of the country present a summary of research findings to the Supreme Court as it prepares to hear a key case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, on the future of integration in America’s colleges this October.

http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/

Can also be found at: http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/college-access/affirmative-action/brief-of-american-social-science-researchers-in-fisher-v.-university-of-texas

Cover page of PICS: Statement of American Social Scientists of Research on School Desegregation Submitted to US Supreme Court

PICS: Statement of American Social Scientists of Research on School Desegregation Submitted to US Supreme Court

(2006)

The body of research that has developed since the Court declared government-sanctioned school racial segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Educa- tion, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), supports three interrelated conclusions: (1) racially integrated schools provide signifi- cant benefits to students and communities, (2) racially isolated schools have harmful educational implications for students, and (3) race-conscious policies are necessary to maintain racial integration in schools.3 Amici submit that these research findings are relevant and supportive of the educational judgments that underlie the student assign- ment policies at issue in the instant cases.

Racially integrated schools prepare students to be effective citizens in our pluralistic society, further social cohesion, and reinforce democratic values. They promote cross-racial understanding, reduce prejudice, improve critical thinking skills and academic achievement, and enhance life opportunities for students of all races. These benefits are maximized when schools are structured in ways that optimize intergroup contact. Communities also benefit from a potential workforce that is better prepared for a global economy, reduced residential segregation, and increased parental involvement in schools – all of which increase the stability of communities.

While there are examples of academically successful schools with high concentrations of nonwhite students, more often than not, segregated minority schools offer profoundly unequal educational opportunities. This inequality is manifested in many ways, including fewer qualified, experienced teachers, greater instability caused by rapid turnover of faculty, fewer educational resources, and limited exposure to peers who can positively influence academic learning. No doubt as a result of these dispari- ties, measures of educational outcomes, such as scores on standardized achievement tests and high school gradua- tion rates, are lower in schools with high percentages of nonwhite students.

Race-conscious student assignment policies are necessary to maintain racially integrated schools. Evi- dence shows that choice assignment policies that do not consider race as a factor in student assignments tend to result in racially homogeneous schools or lead to greater segregation; race-neutral policies that rely on socioeco- nomic status are not as effective in attaining racial diver- sity; and school districts that have eliminated race as a consideration in student assignment policies have experi- enced resegregation and the harmful consequences associ- ated with racially isolated schools.

Cover page of Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Louisvile School District

Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Louisvile School District

(2004)

The District Court correctly upheld the constitutionality of the Jefferson County Board of Education’s student assignment plan (the “2001 Plan”).  The court’s conclusion that promoting racial diversity and reducing racial isolation in the Jefferson County public schools are compelling governmental interests is well supported by both the expert testimony introduced at trial and numerous research studies documenting the benefits of racially integrated student bodies and the harms of racially segregated learning environments.

Among the many benefits that accrue from racial diversity in the student body are increased academic achievement, greater educational and occupational aspirations and success, improved cross-racial understanding, a stronger sense of civic engagement, and an increased desire and ability to live and work in settings with members of multiple racial groups.  The school district and broader community also benefit from an increased ability to compete effectively with private schools, an improved racial climate, and greater community support and participation.

Among the harms associated with racial isolation and segregated learning environments are adverse effects on school attendance and performance, stereotyping and racial hostility, decreased opportunities to learn from members of other racial groups, and poorer preparation to address interracial contexts as adults.  The school district and community as a whole can suffer when schools are perceived as unrepresentative and racially segregated.

Research studies and evidence introduced in the court below also support the District Court’s conclusion that the 2001 Plan is narrowly tailored because of the necessity of employing race-conscious policies in attaining student bodies that can promote the benefits of racial diversity and prevent the harms of racial isolation, and because there is no undue harm to students who do not receive their school of choice.  The Jefferson Plan is flexible in its efforts to maintain a minority student presence at each school that is sufficient for successful integration, and differences in test scores between schools do not accurately reflect on the quality of education that a given student has received.   Differences in context also strongly suggest that the standards for narrow tailoring in higher education, especially the requirement for individualized review, should be reconsidered in the context of elementary and secondary education.

The judgment of the district court should be affirmed.

Cover page of Amicus Curiae Brief in Hancock v. Driscoll

Amicus Curiae Brief in Hancock v. Driscoll

(2004)

This brief will focus on the racial disparities in academic achievement and will highlight the alarmingly low graduation rates of students in Massachusetts, which are referenced in Judge Botsford’s Report. We call the Court’s attention to a severe crisis, especially among poor and minority youth, including new research revealing that, for example, only 36 percent of Hispanic 9th graders graduate “on time” with a diploma. The research presented in this brief will show how racial isolation and poverty correlate highly with low graduation rates. This brief presents the dropout crisis to this Court as both a statewide phenomenon and as a formidable indicator of inadequate educational resources in the focus districts: Brockton, Lowell, Springfield and Winchendon. This brief will further describe how despite the appearance of progress on some measures, the gross inadequacy in education is evidenced by these low rates, especially as they pertain to disadvantaged youth in Massachusetts. Finally, we suggest that this state’s failure to provide adequate regular and special education resources in high poverty districts is also related to high dropout rates, which are related to high rates of incarceration for minority youth.  In conclusion, we urge this court to fashion a remedy, giving full consideration to the recommendations in the report A, and to research on effective educational reforms for high poverty schools and districts. We also request this court to fashion a remedy that reflects a goal of improving graduation rates for poor and minority students in the Commonwealth, and includes consideration of the additional costs and resources needed to achieve this goal.

Cover page of Amicus Curiae Brief in Comfort v. Lynn School Committe

Amicus Curiae Brief in Comfort v. Lynn School Committe

(2004)

The district court below correctly upheld the constitutionality of the Lynn School Committee’s Voluntary Plan for School Improvement and the Elimination of Racial Isolation.  In particular, the district court’s conclusion that promoting racial diversity and reducing racial isolation in the Lynn schools are compelling governmental interests is well supported by both the expert testimony introduced at trial and numerous research studies documenting the benefits of racially diverse student bodies and the harms of racially segregated learning environments.  Among the many benefits that accrue from student body diversity are increased academic achievement, greater educational and occupational aspirations, more cross-racial understanding, a stronger sense of civic engagement, and an increased desire to live and work in settings with members of multiple racial groups. Among the harms associated with racial isolation and segregated learning environments are adverse effects on school attendance and performance, stereotyping and racial hostility, decreased opportunities to learn from members of other racial groups, and poorer preparation to address interracial contexts as adults.  Research studies also support the district court’s conclusion that the Lynn Plan is narrowly tailored because of the necessity of employing race-conscious policies in attaining student bodies that can promote the benefits of racial diversity and prevent the harms of racial isolation.