The Boston Bar Association strongly opposes today’s Supreme Court ruling that effectively ends the use of race-conscious admissions programs in higher education.
The BBA supports race-conscious admissions policies in both secondary and post-secondary education, a stance that is in keeping with our mission to “foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive professional community.”
“This ruling only deepens our resolve to work toward a more inclusive legal community,” Chinh Pham, President of the BBA, said in response. “That goal may have become more difficult to achieve in the wake of today’s ruling, but we will work with our partner law schools and our College & University Law section to help ensure that this goal can be achieved in this new environment.”
The BBA’s history of support for equity in education and diversity in the profession dates back at least to the 1960s, when we formed a special committee dedicated to making law school more accessible to minority students. In 2012 and 2015, we filed amicus briefs in the two Fisher cases before the Supreme Court, leading a coalition of organizations to argue that efforts to promote diversity in education are directly relevant to the goals of the legal profession. More recently, we joined two amicus briefs in a federal case challenging Boston’s “exam school” admissions policies, emphasizing that they ultimately help the City of Boston compete in a global marketplace where “having more diverse, well-credentialed graduates is an essential competitive advantage.”
We believe that the under-representation of lawyers of color harms the legal profession and society as a whole and that this Supreme Court ruling is a direct threat to the ability of the legal profession—including lawyers and others—to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse communities. For decades, applicants to colleges, universities, and law schools have benefited from the equity in access that these programs have promoted. Helping to ensure diversity among student bodies, affirmative action has enabled students at such schools to encounter and learn from a variety of lived experiences, while our profession and society as a whole has become stronger as a result of a broader pipeline to the workforce.
For all of these reasons, we are deeply concerned by the decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina.
We share the view expressed in Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion—which applies as well to the legal profession as to higher education—that “[i]gnoring race will not equalize a society that is racially unequal. What was true in the 1860s, and again in 1954, is true today: Equality requires acknowledgment of inequality.”