“We have fewer minority college professors . . . fewer minority lawyers too.”
The American Educational Research Association would like the Supreme Court to know that Heriot and her fellow conservatives on the commission have it all wrong.
“Research continues to show that student body diversity leads to important educational benefits,” the group, along with other research associations, said in its amicus brief to the court.
Claims to the contrary are “unsupported suppositions that numerous researchers have called into question,” the brief said.
By the time the Supreme Court on Wednesday hears oral arguments about the University of Texas’s limited consideration of race in some admission decisions, the justices and their clerks will have plowed through 92 “friend of the court” briefs filed in Fisher v. University of Texas.
Abigail Noel Fisher, who is white, says the university’s policy resulted in African American and Hispanic students with lesser credentials being admitted to UT in 2008 while she was denied. UT says race is just one of many characteristics it considers in a “holistic” review of some applicants to build a diverse class, as governed by past Supreme Court decisions.
The outpouring of amicus briefs — 73 on behalf of UT, the rest supporting Fisher or opposition to affirmative action — signals the importance of the case. But it also reflects a trend at the court.
Each year seems to bring a record number of amicus briefs from outside groups — 95 percent of cases with signed opinions last term drew at least one amicus brief, according to a report by Washington lawyers Anthony J. Franze and R. Reeves Anderson. The health-care cases saw a record-breaking 136 amicus briefs.
The point of such briefs, according to Lisa S. Blatt, a frequent Supreme Court practitioner, is not to necessarily provide the winning argument but to inform the justices of the consequences.
“The parties (to the case) have to make the legal arguments,” Blatt said. “The amicus briefs explain to the court the importance of what the decision means to everyone else. In this case, not just the 50,000 students at UT,” but to students in universities across the country.
Before the health-care cases, the record for amicus briefs came in 2003 — the last time the Supreme Court considered affirmative action in university admissions, and approved racial considerations by the University of Michigan Law School. One brief in Grutter v. Bollinger is inevitably cited as a model for the genre.
It was filed on behalf of retired military leaders from a wide ideological spectrum. It said the military depended on drawing from a diverse group of graduates from the nation’s top universities.