Cooley Files Amicus Brief Supporting Racial Diversity in Supreme Court College Admissions Cases
New York – August 19, 2022 – In response to cases currently under review by the US Supreme Court involving the admissions policies of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, Cooley has filed an amicus brief demonstrating that the 14th Amendment does not mandate colorblindness or categorically prohibit race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. Cooley’s brief on behalf of 18 leading historians and law professors establishes that the framers of the 14th Amendment recognized the value – and validity – of ameliorative race-conscious measures. Cooley lawyers Kathleen Hartnett, Adam Gershenson, Julie Veroff and Patrick Hayden led this effort.
Since the Supreme Court’s 1978 ruling in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, colleges and universities have been permitted to take race into account as a factor in admissions to ensure a diverse student body. In 2003, the court reaffirmed that basic rule, rejecting in Grutter v. Bollinger a claim that race-conscious admissions policies necessarily violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
Petitioners in the Harvard College and University of North Carolina cases ask the Supreme Court to hold that the 14th Amendment prohibits all race-conscious admissions policies and to overturn Grutter. Arguing against this effort, Cooley’s amicus brief explains that the history of the 14th Amendment demonstrates the amendment’s focus on promoting equality – not mandating race neutrality in all circumstances.
Cooley’s brief further shows that the framers of the 14th Amendment were particularly focused on advancing racial equality in education, including through race-conscious actions. Cooley argues that race-conscious higher education admissions policies are consistent with the constitutional text and history because these policies ameliorate discrimination, enable more robust social integration and advance equality of opportunity.
About Cooley LLP
Cooley partners with local and national legal services organizations to represent hundreds of pro bono clients annually. Through its pro bono work, Cooley empowers individuals to seek justice and opportunity, and provides nonprofit organizations the tools they need to effect change and support underserved communities.
Cooley has 1,500 lawyers across 17 offices in the United States, Asia and Europe, and a total workforce of 3,300.
This content is provided for general informational purposes only, and your access or use of the content does not create an attorney-client relationship between you or your organization and Cooley LLP, Cooley (UK) LLP, or any other affiliated practice or entity (collectively referred to as “Cooley”). By accessing this content, you agree that the information provided does not constitute legal or other professional advice. This content is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction and you should not act or refrain from acting based on this content. This content may be changed without notice. It is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up to date, and it may not reflect the most current legal developments. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Do not send any confidential information to Cooley, as we do not have any duty to keep any information you provide to us confidential. This content may be considered Attorney Advertising and is subject to our legal notices.