MALDEF and LatinoJustice PRLDEF File U.S. Supreme Court Brief on Behalf of Latino Organizations Addressing The Importance of Campus Diversity in Fisher v. University of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 6, 2015

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org, Donald Gatlin, MALDEF: (202) 587-2871 dgatlin@rabengroup.com

WASHINGTON –– LatinoJustice PRLDEF and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Monday in Fisher v. University of Texas on behalf of 25 Texas and national Latina/o organizations, including UT students in support of the race-conscious college admissions plan.

Fisher v. UT, now before the Supreme Court for the second time, is the first higher education admissions case to reach the Court since Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), which affirmed the right of universities to consider race as a limited factor in admissions to achieve the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

“The United States can ill afford to continue to educate students at our best universities in isolation from the reality of the nation and world they will work in,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “The Supreme Court should reject this continued attempt to misuse the courts to undermine our national interest by those with a false and outdated sense of group entitlement.”

Petitioner Abigail Fisher, a White student, filed suit in 2008 against UT-Austin alleging that the university denied her admission on the basis of her race. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Fifth Circuit to take a closer look at UT’s limited consideration of race in its admissions policy; the Fifth Circuit again reviewed UT’s admissions policy, and again upheld it as constitutional. Petitioner appealed that decision, which is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“A reversal of the Fifth Circuit’s decision in this case would limit the full diversity of Latina/o and African American students’ access to higher education at UT, and because the immense educational benefits of diversity – including a broad variety of viewpoints and experiences among students of color -- flow to all students, such a reversal would be detrimental to all students," said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Texas will become majority Latina/o in just a few decades, and UT recognizes that in training and preparing tomorrow’s leaders, candidates must be drawn from a diverse population and must also be able to lead and communicate effectively as part of an international and multicultural workforce, as well as a diverse electorate.

“The leading national and Texas Latino organizations are proud to lend their voices among a broad cross-section of U.S. society – from military officers to leaders in the STEM field, to educators to students of all backgrounds,” said MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel Marisa Bono.

“By seeking to increase diversity within diversity, UT’s narrowly tailored admissions process works to break down racial stereotypes and isolation while increasing cross-cultural and multicultural understanding – goals that are as compelling as they are essential to the University’s mission,” said Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, Associate Counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

MALDEF and LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed the brief as amici along with: University Leadership Initiative, ASPIRA, For People of Color, Inc., Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Hispanic Federation, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), NALEO Educational Fund, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), MANA, National Hispanic Health Foundation, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc., SER-Jobs for Progress National Inc., Mexican-American School Board Members Association, Mi Familia Vota, Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, Texas Association for Bilingual Education, The Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, and Texas Hispanics Organized for Political Education.

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