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Amicus Brief Filed on Behalf of Houston Community College System in Support of The University of Texas at Austin

On August 13, 2012, Andrews Kurth LLP, a recognized leader in the diversity and inclusion arena, filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of its client the Houston Community College System (“HCC”) in support of the Respondents in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, et al.,Case No. 11-345, now pending before the United States Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled for October 10, 2012.

At issue is the constitutionality of The University of Texas at Austin's (UT) limited consideration of race, among many other factors, in the admission of undergraduate students. UT’s admission program is designed to create a diverse student body, thereby achieving a compelling interest, as recognized by the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003.

HCC has an enrollment of more than 70,000 students per semester and is one of the nation’s largest community college systems. Notably, HCC’s students reflect the rich diversity of Houston and contribute to the pool of transfer applicants to UT and other four-year colleges. In 2011, HCC’s student body was 31% African-American, 34% Hispanic, 18% white, 14% Asian-American, and 3% from other backgrounds. As stated in our brief:  "Because the vast majority of transfer applicants to UT are admitted under a race-conscious admissions program, a wholesale reversal of [existing law] would diminish UT’s opportunity to capture the educational benefits of diversity made possible through the admission of these students." Further, "[b]y ignoring the contributions of transfer students to campus diversity, Petitioner [Fisher] provides a false accounting of the effectiveness of UT’s narrowly tailored admissions program.”

"HCC has been our client for some time and it feels strongly about the importance of protecting the academic freedoms of higher educational institutions, especially as such freedoms relate to advancing the benefits of a diverse student body," says Gene Locke, Andrews Kurth partner and co-chair of the firm's Diversity Committee. Locke is Counsel of record on the Amicus Brief.

In addition to supporting UT’s admissions program from the standpoint of diverse transfer applicants, HCC also urges the Supreme Court to evaluate UT’s program in the context of Texas’s long history of providing separate and unequal educational opportunities to minority high school students. Our brief states: "[M]any Hispanic and African-American students grow up in different worlds compared to their white counterparts. UT has a compelling interest in identifying students who excel in the face of adversity. These students will contribute to a diverse educational experience for all students, but it is only through a rigorous, individual review of a student’s application, including race, that UT can fully harness the educational benefits that flow from diversity."

"As an attorney whose practice includes constitutional litigation for public entities, I was proud to work on the brief on behalf of HCC in this historic case for education in Texas," says Lino Mendiola, Andrews Kurth partner and co-chair of the firm's Diversity Committee.

"The firm’s representation of HCC in support of UT’s admissions program is consistent with our leadership position in the area of diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are 'core values' at Andrews Kurth," says Elizabeth Campbell, Andrews Kurth Partner and Chief Diversity Officer and signatory on the brief. "Indeed, our business strategy and vision incorporate key elements of diversity and inclusion."

Copyright © 2022, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume II, Number 247
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About this Author

Elizabeth A. Campbell, Andrews Kurth Law Firm, Business Attorney
Partner and Chief Diversity Officer

Elizabeth is an attorney and diversity practitioner with a successful record of working with business leaders, executives and teams to accomplish organizational goals. In her role as Partner and Chief Diversity Officer, she is responsible for the development and implementation of the diversity and inclusion components of the firm's strategic plan. She collaborates with the firm's Labor and Employment Section attorneys and is a frequent speaker, training facilitator and author on the topic of diversity and...

713-220-4646
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