Many U.S. companies have worked hard to diversify their workforce knowing it provides financial benefits and is socially responsible. In light of the Supreme Court’s potential removal of affirmative action policies from the college admissions process, more than 60 major U.S. businesses (including Apple, Google, GE, and Intel) have asked the high court to retain the consideration of race in university admissions. In support of their defense of affirmative action, these companies have cited the talent pipeline from higher education to their workforces as a benefit to their companies.
The Supreme Court will hear cases next term regarding plaintiffs who are challenging affirmative action policies at both Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. While the Court upheld affirmative action in 2016, the Court’s makeup now looks significantly different. The two cases challenge the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative action policies. The two cases currently before the Court were initially combined, but will now be heard separately in order to allow incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to hear one of the cases (she has longstanding ties to Harvard and pledged to recuse herself from the case involving her alma matter).
“Attaining a student body that is both highly qualified and broadly diverse remains a compelling constitutional interest,” the brief states. “An essential aspect of that diversity is racial and ethnic diversity. That interest has not faded since this Court decided Grutter in 2003. If anything, it has grown stronger, as Amici know from first-hand experience.”
The U.S. government also filed an amicus brief, which argues that diversity is vital to the country’s interests and that affirmative action helps advance this cause.