MALDEF/ LATINOJUSTICE PRLDEF STATEMENTS ON U.S. SUPREME COURT AFFIRMATION OF RACE-CONSCIOUS ADMISSIONS PROGRAMS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 23, 2016

Contact: Christiaan Perez, Manager of Advocacy and Digital Strategy, 212-739-7581, or cperez@latinojustice.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. –This morning, the Supreme Court affirmed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fisher v. University of Texas, and held that the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admission program is lawful under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Late last year, MALDEF and LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed an amicus brief on behalf of over 20 national Latino advocacy groups supporting the race-conscious admissions program. Statements from MALDEF and LatinoJustice in reaction to today’s decision are below.

MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, stated: “Our nation's journey toward equal educational opportunity is an ongoing, arduous, and lengthy one that is far from over. On that journey, we should at the very least avoid going backwards, and today's Supreme Court decision ensures that affirmative action will remain an important and available means of working toward educational policies and outcomes that demonstrate the equity and fairness promised by our Constitution and national values. Today's decision should deter further attempts to use the law to try to go backwards by challenging those policies, such as affirmative action, that move us forward in reaching our shared goal of equal educational opportunity.”

“The Supreme Court affirmed what we in the civil rights community long knew to be true under the Supreme Court’s opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger: the immense educational benefits of diversity – including a broad variety of viewpoints and experiences among students of color actually benefits all students, and while much work remains to be done to ensure equal access to educational opportunity in the U.S., today’s decision stands to deter repeated efforts to halt our national progress towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society.” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel, Marisa Bono, stated: “We are thrilled that four members of the Court ruled in favor of equal opportunity in higher education and recognized what we all know to be true – that race still matters in this country. The Court recognized that it is critical for schools to be able to encourage diverse and inclusive student bodies, and that a diverse learning environment benefits students, our workforce, and the country as a whole. This decision should encourage more of America’s educational, business, and other institutions to pursue fair and thoughtful ways to foster diverse participation.”

“Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that UT's admissions process is constitutional under equal protection, and that its educational goals, like those of many other public university systems–seeking to prepare students and cultivate leaders for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, increasing diversity within diversity, breaking down racial stereotypes and isolation while increasing cross-cultural and multicultural understanding –are as compelling as they are essential to the University's mission,” said Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, Associate Counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

The opinion in this case can be found here

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LatinoJustice PRLDEF

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, originally established as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) in 1972, is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, and workplace justice, seeking to address all forms of discriminatory bias that adversely impact Latina/os. For more information on LatinoJustice, please visit: www.latinojustice.org.

MALDEF

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.

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