SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — University of California leaders weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court case over the use of affirmative action in college admissions Monday, arguing that it's necessary to consider race to ensure student diversity on selective campuses.
UC President Mark Yudof and 10 campus chancellors filed a "friend of the court" brief to the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear a challenge to the University of Texas' consideration of race in undergraduate admissions.
The university leaders point to UC's struggles to create diverse student bodies in the 16 years since California voters banned affirmative action in public hiring, contracting and university admissions.
After the passage of Proposition 209 in November 1996, the proportion of underrepresented minorities declined significantly at the system's most competitive campuses, particularly UC Berkeley and UCLA, as well as its elite graduate schools, according to the brief.
"In a highly selective institution, implementing race-neutral policies leads to a substantial decline in the proportion of entering students who are African American, American Indian and Latino," threatening its ability to train a diverse set of leaders, the administrators wrote in the brief.
The Obama administration and California Attorney General Kamala Harris also submitted legal briefs supporting the University of Texas admissions policy on Monday.
"A diverse student body better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society," Harris wrote in her amicus brief.
In February, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the University of Texas case, setting the stage for its first ruling on affirmative action in higher education since 2003. Oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 10.
Abigail Fisher, a white student who was not admitted to the university in 2008, is challenging the Texas admissions policy as a violation of her civil and constitutional rights.
After California banned affirmative action, voters in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington state and Nebraska approved similar bans with similar results.