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Press Release

ADL to Supreme Court: 'Consideration' of Race is Different Than 'Preferential Treatment'

New York, NY, September 4, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a Michigan ballot proposal addressing affirmative action.  The 2006 ballot proposal banned Michigan colleges and universities from “discriminat[ing] against, or granting[ing] preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

The brief, in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, focuses on the difference in the university admissions context between problematic “preferential treatment” on the basis of race, and “consideration” of race as one factor in a holistic review of college applicants to create a diverse student body.

ADL issued the following statement:

There is a difference between ‘preferential treatment’ based on race, and ‘consideration’ of race.  We have consistently opposed preferential treatment on the basis of race in university admissions decisions, including quotas or programs that provide extra points to minority applicants.

However, a university’s consideration of race as one non-determinative factor in a holistic review of applicants can help ensure a diverse student body in a constitutionally permissible way, which is critically important for higher education.

Exposure to a diverse academic community enriches students’ educational experience and better prepares them for career opportunities.  We have also seen that a diverse learning setting has benefits beyond the classroom with the potential to reduce prejudice and discrimination.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in the fall.  The League urged the Supreme Court to send the case back to the lower courts to determine if the ballot proposal banned use of any and all affirmative action programs, or only affirmative action programs that confer preferential treatment based on race.

The law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson prepared ADL’s amicus brief.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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