This Monday, May 9th, 2022, The Lieutenant Governors of North Carolina and Virginia, Mark Robinson and Winsome Sears, respectively, filed a joint amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to show solidarity with the Asian American students suing Harvard and The University of North Carolina for alleged discrimination in their admission processes. This story will continue to be updated as more information is received.
What is an amicus curiae? An amicus curiae brief is a legal document submitted by a third party to provide expertise regarding the case, typically to sway the court in one way or another. The official press release from the office of Lt. Gov Sears quoted her, saying, “The right to a good education doesn’t come at the expense of denying another the right as well…We are not about to deny educational rights to Asian children. Rather, we must ensure that all children have access to educational opportunities”.
“We Must Ensure That All Children Have Access To Educational Opportunities”
How did the Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College case get to the Supreme Court? In 2014, the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an anti-affirmative action group, sued Harvard College in a Massachusetts U.S. District Court for allegedly using unfair admission policies by holding Asian American applicants to higher standards, allegedly violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harvard countered, arguing that it was compliant with the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed for “narrowly tailored” racial preferences at the University of Michigan Law School. The SFFA appealed and the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court then accepted the case, combining it for oral argument with a case challenging similar policies at the University of North Carolina. It is set to be heard by the court In 2022.
What is the main argument of Robinson and Sear’s amicus brief? The brief, drafted by Tyler Brooks, the Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society, opposes the constitutionality of the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger ruling by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it breaches the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race. According to the brief, a ruling against Grutter v. Bollinger would additionally “remove the judicial reinforcement for a toxic ideology that is increasingly dividing American society based on race”. The brief drew from big names within the anti-affirmative action movement, such as Asian American author of An Inconvenient Minority: The Attack on Asian American Excellence and the Fight for Meritocracy and President of ColorUs United, Kenny Xu. In light of these arguments, the amicus curiae also outlined various race-neutral ways for educational systems to increase accessibility to higher education without disadvantaging Asian American applicants. These included “university support and sponsorship of charter schools”, “expansion of scholarships for low-income students”, and “improved student testing”.