Attorney General Ford Files Brief Supporting Diversity in Higher Education

May 22, 2020


Case against Harvard Challenges Affirmative Action as Unconstitutional; States Argue Programs Ensure Meaningful Diversity for Institutions of Higher Education

Carson City, NV -  Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a multistate amicus brief supporting Harvard College's consideration of race or ethnicity among other forms of diversity in its admissions program. In their brief, a coalition of 15 attorneys general argue that the benefits of diversity in our education institutions are vital to preparing all students to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. The brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for First Circuit, seeks to affirm a previous District Court judgement in the case of Students For Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College that ensures public and private institutions of higher education have the flexibility to craft admissions policies to achieve meaningful diversity.

"Diversity brings many benefits to higher education institutions for students of all backgrounds," said AG Ford. "Race and ethnicity have long been considered valuable factors for admissions because diversity in higher education settings better prepares students to thrive in diverse workplaces and communities."

The attorneys general share Harvard College's interest in considering race as part of its individualized review of candidates for admission. The states argue that the educational benefits of diversity are necessary to prepare students to succeed in our society and to ensure diversity among our future leaders. Colleges and universities are responsible for educating a significant portion of our state workforces and, in particular, are gateways to leadership in both the private and public sectors.

The brief also highlights the reasons why ensuring diversity in higher education admissions is vital. For many students, due to continuing racial segregation of our neighborhoods and schools, college represents students' first opportunity to obtain the benefits of learning in a meaningfully diverse environment. In states where race-conscious admissions policies have been banned, race-neutral efforts by public colleges and universities to achieve meaningful diversity have fallen short.  

The case, brought by an organization called Students For Fair Admissions, Inc., challenges the use of race in college admissions and also alleges that Harvard College intentionally discriminated against Asian-American applicants in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The District Court ruled in favor of Harvard College on all claims.

In addition to Nevada, other states participating in the brief include: California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai'i, Illinois, Massachusetts Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.