Date August 2, 2022
Media Contact

Brown urges Supreme Court to uphold admissions programs that enable all types of diversity among students

As the nation’s highest court prepares to hear two major cases this fall, Brown University and 14 peer colleges and universities argued the importance of race-conscious admissions decisions in an amicus brief.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University and 14 other leading colleges and universities are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold precedent and affirm the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions decisions.

Filed in response to cases challenging the lawfulness of race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, an amicus brief filed on Monday, Aug. 1, argued in favor of the “profound importance of student body diversity — including racial and ethnic diversity” to strengthen students’ educational experiences, pursue innovation across fields and disciplines, and be active and engaged citizens.  

“Individualized and holistic review of applications is the best means that universities can employ to achieve meaningful diversity…” the brief states. “It is impossible to fully appreciate every applicant’s experiences and perspectives while turning a blind eye to race and ethnicity.”

A decision preventing consideration of race in the admissions process will violate foundational First Amendment values and undercut vital efforts to attain diverse student bodies, the signatories argued.

“Universities’ decisions regarding their own admission standards fit squarely within the scope of constitutionally protected academic freedom this Court has recognized for generations,” the brief states. “… It also would effect an extraordinary intrusion into Amici’s conduct of their academic affairs.”

The court has repeatedly upheld similar programs affirming that race can be used among the factors in evaluating college applicants.

The brief asserts the importance of academic freedom and “latitude to make educational judgments” in college admissions decisions. A more diverse student population fosters a more robust spirit of free inquiry, encourages dialogue that sparks new insights in research and teaching, provides educational benefits, and inspires students to question their own assumptions, test received truths and appreciate the complexity of the modern world, the brief noted.

“Amici believe that exceptional talent exists in all sectors of society,” the brief states. “A homogenous student body is a strong indication that the admissions system has not succeeded in finding the best and brightest students.”

The amici filed the brief in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. University of North Carolina, et al. Both cases are expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the fall.

“For many applicants, their race or ethnicity has influenced their identities, experiences and perspectives—sometimes profoundly,” the brief asserts. “Recognizing that does not mean embracing the canard that all applicants are affected by their race in the same way; it means acknowledging the simple truth that race can and does affect applicants in many different ways.”

Brown filed the brief jointly with the following colleges and universities: California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University.