Affirmative action 'a compelling government interest,' academic groups say

Several academic associations representing thousands of top private and public colleges are enthusiastically endorsing Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding affirmative action.

While the Supreme Court was closely divided in its 4-3 decision, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) has made up its mind that discriminating on the basis of race during the admissions process is constitutional.

In fact, affirmative action is not only “democratic,” but “essential,” AACU President Carol Schneider declared in a statement released shortly after the ruling.

“Because of these longstanding commitments, AACU was eager and proud to support several amicus briefs submitted in support of the University of Texas as the university defended its admissions practices in the lawsuit brought by Abigail Fisher and ruled on today,”she wrote. “In this context, we are thrilled today by the Supreme Court’s decision to reaffirm that compelling national interest.”

[RELATED: Supreme Court upholds affirmative action for college admissions]

At least three other scholarly associations have followed suit, praising the Supreme Court ruling as “good for higher education.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas is good for higher education and good for the country,” Association of American Universities (AAU) President Mary Sue Coleman remarked. “We are delighted by the Court’s reaffirmation that colleges and universities may judiciously use race as one factor among many in admissions processes designed to achieve their educational goals.”

[RELATED: Southern Cal student gov may ask for $100 million to help impose racial quotas]

In a brief statement released Thursday, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) joined its fellow scholars in commending the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has once again reaffirmed the constitutionality of higher education institutions’ efforts to promote diversity through admissions practices that consider race and ethnicity as factors,” AASCU President Muriel Howard commented.

[RELATED: Texas A&M shows that affirmative action isn’t necessary]

The American Council on Education (ACE) expressed similar sentiments, saying it was “extremely gratified” by the ruling in what was described as a “broad statement” from the council’s president.

“We are extremely gratified that the United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the educational benefit of a diverse student body is a compelling government interest that allows for narrowly tailored consideration of race and ethnicity as one factor in a holistic admissions review,” ACE President Molly Corbett said.

[RELATED: Univ. of California selectively recruits Latino and black students]

Notably, ACE rounded up 40 other academic associations back in 2012 to sign on to an amicus brief when the Fisher case was first being considered by the Supreme Court. The 33-page brief, which the AACU, AAU, and AASCU all signed in support, advanced the argument that “a diverse student body is essential to the educational objectives of colleges and universities.”

As some of the nation’s largest and most prominent academic associations, AACU, ACE, AAU, and AASCU together represent over 3,000 of America’s top public and private colleges and universities.

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