AAU joined the American Council on Education and 38 other higher education associations in filing an amicus brief in support of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the pending Supreme Court cases involving the use of race-conscious admissions.
The associations’ amicus brief argues that SFFA’s efforts to prevent colleges and universities from considering a student’s race and ethnicity during the admissions process would risk “unpredictable consequences in higher education” and require the court to “ignore established and sound constitutional legal principles and to reject decades of precedent.” The brief argues that institutions use “careful holistic review” of applicants for admission to “craft their own educational environments and goals,” and denying colleges and universities the ability to select the composition of their student body would constitute a violation of First Amendment rights, including academic freedom.
Further, the brief argues, “Mandating that race be scrubbed from the admissions considerations, as SFFA seeks, would chill student expression and deprive a subset of applicants of the full benefits of holistic review.” Students of color would be uniquely disadvantaged in the event of a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in that they would be unable to speak of their ethnicity or race, while “students discussing socio-economic status, gender, age, disability, or experiences as veterans, musicians, or first-generation learners, all could speak freely,” the brief notes.
Both Harvard and UNC have filed response briefs in their respective cases. Harvard’s brief is available here; UNC’s brief is available here. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear both cases this fall.