The Supreme Court ruling of June 23, which upholds the use of race as a criterion for college admissions, caused many institutions to breathe a sigh of relief. The Court, while striking down the University of Michigan’s point system, affirmed the constitutionality of the “narrowly tailored use of race to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body” in the majority opinion of the court.
Over 40 schools, AU among them, submitted amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in support of the University of Michigan. Amicus briefs are meant to give the justices more information upon which to make their rulings. Mark Sargent, dean of the Villanova Law School, which submitted one of the briefs, feels that the decision vindicates the school’s admissions policies.
“We have a system similar to the University of Michigan’s…we use race as a plus factor,” Sargent said. He also said he believes that most law schools across the country use a similar sort of system.
The brief that Villanova, AU and 36 others submitted states, “Amici have learned that admissions decisions based on racially ‘neutral’ factors alone…always fail to produce meaningful diversity.” The brief goes on to argue that for the Amici, the central question of the case is whether “our nation desires the inclusion of Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans in selective colleges and universities.”
The University of Chicago, which submitted a different amicus brief supporting Michigan in conjunction with seven other universities, argued in its brief that race should be a factor in admissions, just as many other non-academic characteristics play a role in admissions. The university says that just as it gives special consideration to minority students, it gives the same attention to “those with unusual athletic ability, those with special artistic talents, those who would be first in their families to attend any college.”
Another amicus that believes that its admissions policies are in line with the ruling is Johns Hopkins University.
“We don’t think [adapting admissions policy to the ruling] is going to take much change,” Dennis O’Shea, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins said. He went on to say that Johns Hopkins considers race along with many other factors and does not apply any formula when evaluating applicants. “I think Johns Hopkins is very satisfied with the decision,” O’Shea said.
Carnegie Mellon University, the leader of one of the briefs, sees the decision as a resounding success for higher education.
“Carnegie Mellon and colleges and universities everywhere will be enriched by this affirmation that the principle that diversity is a compelling state interest which justifies the use of race as one factor in determining admissions,” University President Jared L. Cohon said in a press release.