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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Amicus Curiae Brief in University of Michigan Undergraduate Admissions Case


Consistent with Justice Powell’s controlling opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the district court below correctly ruled that, as a matter of law, promoting diversity in higher education is a compelling governmental interest. This holding is supported both by research evidence introduced in the district court and by a large and growing body of research literature that demonstrates the positive benefits of educational diversity for all students—minority and non-minority alike. Research evidence in the record was unchallenged by Petitioners, who conceded the value of educational diversity at the summary judgment stage. The research evidence presented by Respondents, including an expert report documenting the positive effects of student diversity, is substantial, and the trial court’s findings of fact should be left undisturbed. Research studies show that student body diversity can promote learning outcomes, democratic values and civic engagement, and preparation for a diverse society and workforce—goals that fall squarely within the basic mission of most universities. Several studies demonstrate that student body diversity broadens the range of intellectual opinions on university campuses and improves classroom learning environments, that diverse learning environments promote thinking skills, and that cross-racial interaction has positive effects on retention, college satisfaction, self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and leadership. Diverse learning environments challenge students to consider alternative viewpoints and to develop tolerance for differences, and can promote participation in civic activities. Studies further show that student diversity better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society. The University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions policies are narrowly tailored to advance the compelling interest in promoting educational diversity. The policies employ race flexibly as one of several factors in determining admissions decisions, and they do not unnecessarily burden non-minority applicants by preventing them from competing with minority applicants. Evidence introduced in the district court and recent research studies indicate that race-neutral alternatives, including “percent plans” employed at a number of state universities, are less effective than race-conscious policies in promoting diversity, and would be much less effective in the University of Michigan’s circumstances.

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