Three national Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander civil rights organizations filed separate amicus briefs today in support of affirmative action; the briefs were filed in relation to the upcoming Fisher v. University of Texas case scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 9th.
In addition to briefs filed by the Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the brief filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) was signed by over 160 national AANHPI groups and individuals, including by this blog. Other signatories hail from all parts of the AANHPI diaspora, in terms of ethnicity, gender and group focus.
The three briefs filed today outline the critical value of race-conscious affirmative action policies for all members of the AANHPI community, and why efforts by Abigail Fisher and her conservative supporters to eliminate such diversity programs will have damaging consequences for AANHPI students and the entire United States. Writes AAAJ et al. as a summary of the 92-page brief:
Yes, this blog whole-heartedly considers itself a signatory to this argument, and the full amicus brief.
AALDEF’s urges the court to distinguish between affirmative action and diversity programs and negative action that has been used to discriminate against Asian American applicants, noting that these two types of programs are distinct. NAPABA notes that affirmative action programs have historically improved representation for many Asian Americans in a variety of professional and academic spheres, and continues to do so for many AANHPI today. They write in the joint press release about the value of diversity programs:
Today’s three amici reflect the finding that race-conscious affirmative action programs are wildly popular in the AANHPI community; more than two-thirds of AANHPI’s surveyed in national and state-level surveys respond favourably on the subject. Many of the AANHPI organizations have long been vocal in their support of affirmative action programs, including when over 135 AANHPI groups across the country joined together in an open letter of support earlier this year.
The amici are part of an “outpouring” of pro-affirmative action amici, similar to what was seen in 2012 during the first Fisher case. This week, several high-profile universities also filed a joint amicus brief in support of affirmative action programs. Brown University, Dartmouth University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Yale University, MIT, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, John Hopkins University, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Pennsylvania co-authored a brief explaining the importance of campus diversity to academic quality and student life. Harvard filed a separate amicus brief also in support of affirmative action, as did the University of California, the University of Michigan, the American Psychological Association, the American College of Physicians, two members of the US Commission on Civil Rights, and a coalition of nearly 300 US college basketball coaches.
In contrast, a single amicus brief has been filed opposing affirmative action by the Asian American Coalition for Education, a coalition that represents approximately 100 Asian American — mostly Chinese American — member groups. Earlier, that organization was involved in a failed attempt to file a complaint about Harvard University’s affirmative action programs to the Department of Education.
The Supreme Court sent the first Fisher case back down to the lower courts, where the Court of Appeals once again upheld the constitutionality of the University of Texas’ diversity programs. This ruling prompted the Supreme Court to once again hear Abigail Fisher’s wild assertion that holistic review programs racially discriminated against her objectively mediocre college application.
SCOTUS afficionados predict that there is a low possibility that the justices will completely overturn affirmative action in Fisher II, although most also agree that they might rule that more strict scrutiny must be applied. Until such time as the justices hear arguments and issue a ruling, it is critical — as concerned AANHPI; as racial justice activists; as people generally interested in higher education access for all — that we continue to communicate the importance of race-conscious affirmative action programs for ensuring academic opportunity for the most marginalized and disadvantaged students (including many AANHPI students) among us.
For more information on AANHPI working to protect affirmative action, please visit asianamericancivilrights.org. Also check out AAAJ, NAPABA, and AALDEF, and share this post and your own support of affirmative action to #edu4all.
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