Last week, in its decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the critical principle that universities may use racial and ethnic diversity as one factor of many to select qualified candidates as part of a carefully crafted admissions policy.
This ruling is a victory for diversity, equal opportunity, and the future of our nation. A strong majority of the Court preserved decades-long principles which recognize fostering a diverse learning environment with students from different backgrounds and perspectives creates tangible educational benefits for all students who seek to obtain a high-quality education.
It is in everyone’s interest to have students from various backgrounds get a close look and a fair shot at overcoming barriers to educational opportunity. Learning in a diverse environment equips all students for success in the 21st century when they will be working in diverse workplaces and in a global economy. In fact, numerous Fortune 100 companies and other leading businesses filed a friend-of-the-court-brief which vigorously argued that diverse universities are vital to the needs and success of American business in the global marketplace. These businesses stated that it is a “business and economic imperative” that university graduates have had the “opportunity to share ideas, experiences, viewpoints, and approaches with a broadly diverse student body.”
Although the Court found that appellate court below (the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit) did not use the correct standard in examining the University of Texas’ admissions plan, we are hopeful that when the 5th Circuit revisits this case, it will uphold the university’s prudent admissions plan as constitutional.
Cases like this exhibit the importance of judicial appointments to the federal courts. Courts act as the guardians of important values like fairness, dignity, and equality to all those who come before federal courts all across our country. We should place particular emphasis on the appointments to the federal district and circuit courts. These lower courts decide more than 100,000 cases every year while the Supreme Court only accepts 80-100 cases per year. As we have and will continue to see, courts matter because judges, who are appointed for life, make thousands of decisions that impact our daily lives and our cherished rights.