U.S. House Democrats file brief in college affirmative action case
The Supreme Court will hear the cases in the fall
A view of the front portico of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON — U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott of Virginia has filed a brief along with 64 other House Democrats urging the Supreme Court to uphold the role that race plays in college admission policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
“Narrowly tailored admissions policies that recognize race as one criterion — out of many criteria for evaluating prospective students — are a key tool to realize diverse learning environments and address continued educational inequity,” Scott said in a statement issued Tuesday.
The Supreme Court originally combined the two cases that challenged affirmative action, but then separated them — likely because the newest justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, said she would recuse herself from the Harvard case because she previously held a six-year term on Harvard’s board of overseers. Legal experts have said the court’s decision could reshape the use of affirmative action in higher education.
Both ask the court to overturn a 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger that upheld the University of Michigan’s practice of considering race in its undergraduate admissions process to achieve a diverse student body.
The Harvard case also questions whether the university is violating the Civil Rights Act by placing a cap on its admittance of Asian American students, which discriminates against those students, the plaintiffs argue.
“These admissions policies are critical for achieving the promise of equal educational opportunity that remains unfulfilled more than 65 years after the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Brown v. Board of Education,” Scott said.
House Democrats, in their brief, argue that race-conscious admissions policies are still needed “given the continued underrepresentation of African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, and many Asian Americans in colleges and universities across the country.”
“Even with the use of a race-conscious admissions program, the University of North Carolina (UNC) ‘continues to face challenges admitting and enrolling underrepresented minorities, particularly African American males, Hispanics, and Native Americans,’” they wrote.
The Supreme Court will hear the cases in the fall.
House Democrats who signed onto the brief include:
Rep. Raul Grijalva
Rep. Ruben Gallego
Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick
Rep. Frederica Wilson
Rep. Hank Johnson
Rep. Lucy McBath
Rep. André Carson
Rep. Troy Carter
Rep. Steny Hoyer
Rep. Jamie Raskin
Rep. Anthony Brown
Rep. Kweisi Mfume
Rep. Rashida Tlaib
Rep. Andy Levin
Rep. Haley Stevens
Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Betty McCollum
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman
Rep. G.K. Butterfield
Rep. Alma Adams
Rep. Deborah Ross
Rep. Kathy Ellen Manning
Rep. Joyce Beatty
Rep. Suzanne Marie Bonamici
Rep. Earl Francis Blumenauer
Rep. Dwight Evans
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. Mark Pocan
Rep. Donald McEachin
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.