Companies Urge Supreme Court to Preserve Affirmative Action in Higher Ed

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. August 5, 2022
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U.S. Supreme Court

​Companies, universities and law firms have submitted briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of affirmative action at postsecondary institutions, saying affirmative action helps provide a more diverse pipeline of talent in the workforce.

The Supreme Court will review cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) in its term that begins in October. Some fear that the court will find the universities' practices unlawful. Others oppose affirmative action in higher education.

We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Many Companies Support Affirmative Action in College

More than 80 companies urged the high court to uphold the consideration of race as a factor in college admissions, saying affirmative action helps build diverse workforces and grow profits. Companies that signed the brief included American Airlines, Apple, General Electric, Kraft Heinz, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks and United.

(ABC News)

Higher-Ed Coalition Supports Affirmative Action

Forcing colleges to ignore race in admissions would infringe on academic freedom and discriminate against applicants who discuss life experiences related to their racial backgrounds, a coalition of higher-ed groups told the Supreme Court in another brief. There would be a First Amendment problem if the court prohibits the consideration of race in admissions, they said.

(The Washington Post)

Legal Groups Ask Court to Uphold Affirmative Action

More than 15 legal industry groups, including the American Bar Association (ABA), submitted briefs asking the court to uphold affirmative action. "The legal system has made significant progress over the last several decades, due in no small part to the increased diversity in the legal profession resulting from admissions policies that consider race as one of many factors," the ABA's brief stated.

(Reuters)

Opponents Voice Their Concerns

Fourteen Republican senators and more than 50 Republican members of the House of Representatives have filed a brief supporting the end of affirmative action. "Asian Americans are increasingly victimized by discriminatory practices," the brief said. Signatories included Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Republican leader of the Senate, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the Republican leader of the House.

(Inside Higher Ed)

Democrats Support Affirmative Action

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, led 65 House Democrats in signing a brief that asked the Supreme Court to reject challenges aimed at Harvard and UNC. The lawsuits against the universities arose after a conservative group, Students for Fair Admissions, sued both institutions, asserting that the schools unlawfully discriminated against Asian-American applicants.

(The Hill)

Covered Contractors

Employers must be aware of their equal employment opportunity duties and obligations to create affirmative action programs when doing business with the U.S. federal government. Affirmative action programs ensure workforce diversity by race, ethnicity and gender. They also show whether minorities or women are underused or underrepresented and whether a federal contractor is engaged in good-faith efforts to correct underutilization or underrepresentation, such as by casting a wider net in recruiting and promoting employees.

(SHRM toolkit) and (SHRM Online)

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