Black Conservatives Join Supreme Court Brief Urging Reconsideration of Racial Quotas

Washington, D.C. – Black conservatives with the Project 21 leadership network joined a legal brief filed today at the U.S. Supreme Court that asks the Court to overturn a recent decision that allows “diversity” to be used to maintain racial preferences in college admissions.

“It’s pure illogic that people think you can fight fire with fire and not get anything but scorched earth,” said Project 21 spokesman Jerome Hudson. “Chief Justice Roberts said it best in 2007 when he wrote that ‘[t]he way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’ We are either an affirmative action America, where some of us are held to a lower standard based on things such as skin color, or we are equal under the law and free to succeed or fail on our merits. It is mutually exclusive.”

Project 21 joined an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The brief was written by the Pacific Legal Foundation and, in addition to Project 21, is joined by the Center for Equal Opportunity, American Civil Rights Institute and National Association of Scholars.

In the case of Fisher v. Texas, plaintiff Abigail Fisher, who is white, claims racial preferences in the University of Texas at Austin admissions process in 2008 led to the rejection of her application in favor of a lesser-qualified racial minority candidate. Her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeks to determine if UT’s race-based admissions policy presents a “compelling, otherwise unsatisfied, government interest and narrow tailoring to advance their interest” as it pertains to the equal protection guarantee in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Race-based admissions were outlawed in Texas in 1996 by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Hopwood decision. In 2003, however, immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court cited a “compelling state interest” for classroom diversity in its ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, University of Texas officials announced the re-introduction of racial considerations in the application process.

The brief joined by Project 21 argues that the diversity interest created by the Grutter decision is not compatible with the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The brief states: “[N]o proffered benefit can justify the high costs of racial discrimination. Therein lies the error with the Grutter Court’s compelling interest finding. Diversity cannot be viewed in a vacuum as an abstract good; constitutional scrutiny arises because of the means — racial classifications — that are being used to achieve the end — “the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body”… Unlike remedying past intentional discrimination, which has its roots in the historical evils of the slave trade, slavery and Jim Crow, the benefits flowing from a diverse student body was an invention of politically interested social scientists.”

The brief continues: “Put simply, until Grutter, this Court had never found a social science exception to the Equal Protection Clause. The social science foundation of Grutter was never sound, has grown shakier with contrary empirical findings and crumbles in light of evidence that universities have thrived without racial preferences… [B]ecause there are few if any reliance interests in continuing racially discriminatory admissions policies, Grutter can be overruled without causing students or university officials any legitimate harm.”

“The Fisher case exists because there are people who believe differences in pigment equate to diversity. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court ruled that ‘obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body’ is a constitutional goal. Sadly, this type of ideology — that race matters — is the exact way of thinking that almost destroyed our nation,” said Project 21 spokeswoman Shelby Emmett. “If anything, diversity today should be based on ideas, thoughts and one’s ability to think differently than those around them. It should not be based on checking a box that says they fit some social construct of race.”

Last October, Project 21 joined an amicus curiae brief, also written by the Pacific Legal Foundation, asking the court to hear the Fisher case, which, in February, it agreed to do.

Fisher v. Texas will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court during the Court’s next term, which begins in October.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for nearly two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (


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