AERA to File Amicus Brief
AERA to File Amicus Brief
AERA to File Amicus Brief

April 2012

AERA will file an amicus curiae brief in Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, a key Supreme Court case with major implications for race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. At its meeting on April 13, 2012, AERA Council unanimously passed the following resolution:

Be it resolved that the American Educational Research Association prepare and file a brief amicus before the Supreme Court setting forth the social science research that needs to be taken into account in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas–Austin.

AERA will file the brief in August, with oral arguments to be heard by the Court later this calendar year.

The thrust of the amicus brief will examine and set forth research related to the educational benefits of diverse educational environments for majority and minority students, the harms related to racial isolation (e.g., stereotype threat, tokenism), and the impact of affirmative action admissions on students’ educational experiences and on their careers.

The brief will build upon social science research previously set forth by the AERA in amicus briefs presented to the Court in earlier cases: Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), Gratz v. Bollinger  (2003), Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2006), and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (2006). Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority opinion in the Grutter case cited the research on the benefits of diversity presented in the AERA brief in upholding the constitutionality of the race-conscious admissions process at the University of Michigan Law School.

“As one of the few scientific societies submitting amicus briefs in both the 2003 and 2006 cases, AERA is well positioned to serve as an amicus in the Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin case—perhaps the most important for this new decade. The Association has an affirmative responsibility to bring forward the research knowledge to the Court,” said Felice J. Levine, AERA Executive Director.

AERA initiated the process of developing an amicus brief when the Supreme Court decided to review Fisher in February. As with the prior cases, AERA is working in close collaboration with the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles now located at the University of California-Los Angles. Gary Orfield, Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning, and Co-Director of the Project, is leading  a team of researchers across the country in identifying research that meets the highest standards of peer review for presentation before the Supreme Court. Levine added that “this collaboration adds to AERA’s capacity to ensure that the best of science is taken into account.”

The Association sponsored a Presidential symposium, From Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) to Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin—Will Compelling Social Science Evidence on the Benefits of Diversity Prevail in Higher Education? at the AERA Annual Meeting in Vancouver on Monday, April  16, 2012. The AERA website will serve as a source of information related to the AERA amicus brief and related efforts to connect research to policy issues in this case in the months ahead.