(Austin, Texas) – To defend the limited, but meaningful inclusion of race in the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions process, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with pro bono counsel Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and Bernabei & Kabat PLLC, filed a motion to intervene today in SFFA v. University of Texas at Austin et. al, on behalf of three organizations and eight students. The university’s race-conscious admissions policy ensures that underrepresented students of color are not overlooked when applying to the university, and increases diversity, preparing students to work, live and thrive in our increasingly multi-ethnic society.
The motion to intervene was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and co-counsel are representing the Texas NAACP, the Black Student Alliance, the Texas Orange Jackets and eight individual students of color. These students identify as Mexican-American, Black Americans, Latinx and Asian American and stand together in support of inclusive policies that make UT-Austin and colleges across the country more racially diverse and equitable.
“Race-conscious admissions is a lawful and indispensable tool for ensuring that colleges and universities are accessible to students from all walks of life, including highly talented Black, Latinx, Native American, and other historically excluded groups,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The policy allows UT-Austin and other institutions to cultivate diverse campus environments that help students bridge racial divides, increase cross-cultural understanding, and prepare for leadership in a diverse and pluralistic society. At a moment of national reckoning with our legacy of racism and systemic discrimination, this lawsuit, and other related cases challenging race-conscious admissions at Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill, seeks to resurrect claims that defy Supreme Court precedent and obstruct progress that has been made to advance racial diversity and inclusion across our nation.”
If permitted to intervene by the court, the students intend to highlight how UT-Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy is necessary to counteract biases against students of color, how race plays an integral role in their identity and experiences and how meaningful representation of certain racial and ethnic groups has not yet been achieved at UT-Austin. The students will also discuss the support systems that have been developed at the university as a result of the policies that promote racial diversity.
“The plaintiff here seeks not only to bring an end to race-conscious admissions policies, but also to prohibit applicants from discussing their racial identity and racialized experiences in their applications,” said Carter Simpson of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. “The students and student groups aim to ensure that applicants’ backgrounds and racial and ethnic differences are celebrated, not censored.”
This case is part of SFFA’s larger strategy of challenging race-conscious admissions at multiple universities across the country. However, standing in its way is more than 40 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent upholding affirmative action in education because it allows universities to admit remarkable students from all backgrounds and produces profound, life-long benefits to all students and our broader society. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is actively participating on behalf of students and helping to defend access and opportunity in the other cases SFFA has filed against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Read the motion here.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.