The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) has a deep and longstanding commitment to racial diversity and equity in higher education. In one of its most recent efforts, SALT filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin II, defending the University’s race-conscious admissions policy. Fisher II was decided on June 23, 2016, and the High Court upheld the policy as a means to achieve diversity in higher education.
SALT’s amicus effort involved a number of scholars and advocates, all of whom brought different perspectives that shaped the amicus brief. Lawyers from Morrison & Foerster LLP–Marc Hearron, David Cross, and Brian Leitch—prepared and filed the brief pro bono, under the direction of the SALT Affirmative Action Committee and other SALT members and friends. The brief was crafted not only to defend the University of Texas’s policy, but also to emphasize SALT’s core values of social justice and its unique perspective on equity in legal education and in education more broadly.
Then SALT Co-Presidents Olympia Duhart (Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law) and Ruben Garcia (UNLV Law) coordinated this undertaking, with input and guidance from law faculty and others who brought their own expertise to SALT’s efforts. Professor Benjamin Davis (Toledo Law) contributed his knowledge of domestic and international racial justice, gained through many years of work dating back to Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)—the Supreme Court’s original statement on race-conscious admissions. Thomas Jefferson Law Professor Meera Deo’s empirical research on diversity in legal education was cited throughout the brief, as were Savannah Law Professor Vinay Harpalani’s law review articles on Fisher and the scope of the diversity interest. Professors Nareissa Smith of North Carolina Central University Law and Kaimipono Wenger of Thomas Jefferson Law brought their extensive connections to the civil rights community at large, as SALT coordinated its amicus effort with other advocacy groups. Jay Rosner, Executive Director of The Princeton Review Foundation and national expert on standardized tests, also contributed with his expertise on racial bias in testing. Additionally, three law students from Nova Southeastern Law provided valuable assistance with SALT’s amicus effort: Frederick J. Pye III, Ashley Gantt-Mitchell and Jennie Marroquin.
In the past few years, SALT has also filed amicus briefs in Fisher I (the first argument of Fisher before the U.S. Supreme Court), and in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. As an organization of law professors committed to social justice, SALT will continue its legal efforts to achieve racial equity and to support advocates for racial justice.
Thanks to Professor Vinay Harpalani, Savannah Law, for this report.