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Public Statements

Congresswoman Corrine Brown Pleased with Supreme Court Decision: Pledges to Continue Fight for Affirmative Action

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Regarding the Supreme Court decision in Fischer v. University of Texas, Congresswoman Corrine Brown made the following statement:

"I am heartened that the Supreme Court decided today, in a 7-1 decision, to send Fisher v. University of Texas (affirmative action in university admissions case) back to New Orleans, for the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the case [using a different standard of review]. Justice Ginsburg, the loan Justice to dissent, sums up the case succinctly, upon writing "I have several times explained why government actors, including state universities, need not be blind to the linĀ­gering effects of "an overtly discriminatory past," the legacy of "centuries of law-sanctioned inequality.'

Certainly, affirmative action is about more than just school admissions; rather, it is about giving historically unrepresented minorities the opportunity to advance professionally, something denied to them throughout most of America's history. And for many minorities, affirmative action has been a vehicle to progress and bridge the gap among educational attainment between racial lines. To me, maintaining a policy with the goal of creating a diverse academic community represents the essence of the motto of our great nation:. E Pluribis Unum -out of many, one.

Indisputably, affirmative action policies in college admissions, employment, government contracts and housing were adopted into law to correct discrimination. And although there have been numerous extraordinary advancements, the majority of academic studies clearly demonstrate that minorities remain underrepresented in institutions of higher education. In the state of California for example, when affirmative action was banned in state university admissions in the 1990's, minority enrollment at the state's flagship universities, UC Berkeley and UCLA, fell dramatically. A similar phenomena occurred at Florida's flagship schools in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when minority admission dropped precipitously following the passage of One Florida (which banned affirmative action in state college admissions and state contracting).

Moreover, the fastest-growing populations in the United States are people of color: and in my state of Florida, the makeup of the state is 16% African American, and nearly 23% Hispanic, just under 40% of the state's people. I categorically do not believe that it would bode well for America's economic future if minorities continue to be persistently under-represented at our nation's top universities and consequently, underemployed. As Justice Lewis Powell wrote in 1978, America's future depends on exposing prospective leaders "to ideas and mores of students as diverse as this nation of many peoples.'

Ten years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the use of race as a factor (among many) in admissions during a 2003 University of Michigan Law School admissions case. However, the court also said that affirmative-action measures should be temporary, signaling that the time will come when they will be unnecessary. I am certain that everyone in our country looks forward to that day, but as a nation we are not there yet. Disparities in pay, in access to opportunity, and in economic advancements clearly underline this. And to that end, I strongly believe that the University of Texas at Austin's effort to provide the most diverse and academically enriched campus for its students should not only be upheld, but commended as an example for universities across the nation, and I am very optimistic that the Fifth Circuit Court will uphold the program."


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