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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Amicus Brief in Schuette Case


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.

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