AERA Holds Media Briefing on Amicus Brief in <i>Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin</i>
AERA Holds Media Briefing on Amicus Brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
AERA Holds Media Briefing on Amicus Brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
October 2012

On September 27, AERA held a media briefing to a strong turnout and discussed the research presented in the AERA et al. amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The briefing, which was covered by a number of news outlets and webcasted live, outlined scientific evidence bearing on the university’s use of race as one factor in its admissions policy and other issues relevant to this critically important case, scheduled for oral argument on October 10, 2012. The event was cosponsored by the American Sociological Association, the American Statistical Association, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Law and Society Association, and the Linguistic Society of America.

Felice J. Levine, AERA executive director, served as the moderator for a panel of research experts on higher education, admissions, and the law. Angelo Ancheta, counsel of record for the amicus brief, executive director of the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, and associate clinical professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, spoke on the legal context of the amicus brief and the importance of social science research for education. He was followed by Stella M. Flores, assistant professor of public policy and higher education, Vanderbilt University, who discussed her research on education in Texas and on race-neutral admissions practices.

Gary Orfield
, professor of education, law, political science, and urban planning and codirector of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Liliana Garces, assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University, spoke on the concept of narrow tailoring in pursuit of a compelling state interest. William C. Kidder, assistant provost at the University of California, Riverside, delved into research bearing on compelling interests and the benefits of diversity. Catherine Didion, senior program officer at the National Academy of Engineering and director of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine at the National Academies, concluded the panel discussion with her perspective on the potential consequences of the case for higher education and the STEM workforce. A lively and engaging question-and-answer session followed.

“AERA has a fundamental interest in the accurate presenta­tion of social science research on these impor­tant ques­tions of law,” Levine commented after the filing of the amicus brief. “Quite simply, we have a responsibility to enable the Court to make its determinations based on the best scientific evidence available.” The AERA et al. amicus brief is one of several supporting the university, including the American Social Science Researchers Brief, signed by more than 440 individual social scientists. The briefs were filed last month to present the Court with summaries of scientific evidence that bears directly on the case.

Video and media briefing materials
from the event can be found on the AERA website.
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