Vivi E. Lu and Dekyi T. Tsotsong, Harvard Crimson, April 2, 2021
The state of Texas filed an amicus brief Tuesday in favor of the anti-affirmative action group suing Harvard over its race-conscious admissions policies.
Students for Fair Admissions, which first filed suit against Harvard in 2014, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 25 to review a pair of lower court rulings that decided in favor of Harvard’s use of race in admissions. In addition to reiterating its previous claims that Harvard’s admissions practices illegally discriminate against Asian American applicants, SFFA called on the justices to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger — a 2003 landmark case in which the Supreme Court deemed the use of race in higher education admissions constitutional.
In its filing, the Texas Attorney General’s Office put its support behind SFFA’s call for the Court to overturn Grutter.
Peter F. Lake ’81, a law professor at Stetson University, described the brief as a “full frontal assault on existing precedent.”
Lake said a brief from Texas is “extremely powerful.”
“Texas has been a battleground over race-conscious admissions for decades,” Lake said. “The court’s gonna pay special attention to that.”
Texas was previously the setting for a contentious battle over affirmative action. In 2016, Abigail Fisher, a white woman who was denied acceptance to the University of Texas at Austin, sued the university for allegedly violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in favor of the university and upheld the use of race in higher education admissions.
The amicus brief filed by the Office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton presents four main arguments against the 2003 Grutter case.
The brief states that the Grutter decision departs from longstanding Supreme Court rule that the Constitution outlaws racial discrimination; that Grutter cannot be applied consistently; that the court has violated the principles of Grutter; and that Grutter has not generated “reliance interests.”
The Texas Attorney General’s Office called the use of Grutter as precedent “state-imposed and state-funded race discrimination.”
As of the deadline to file a brief in support of SFFA, Oklahoma was the only other state to do so.