Reform Movement Responds to Court Ruling on Affirmative Action

 WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2013 - Today, the Supreme Court ruled in Fisher v. Texas, the latest challenge to affirmative action to appear before the Court. In response to the ruling, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

"We are pleased that today's decision in Fisher v. Texas upholds the use of affirmative action, the principle of diversity, and the understanding that race conscious remedies may be necessary to ensure diversity, even as we are aware that the decision's wording indicates the Court may welcome future opportunities to review and potentially restrict affirmative action. In a growingly diverse society the need to ensure diverse representation in our schools and workplaces is more vital than ever. Such remedies for racial, ethnic, age and gender discrimination are indispensible to ensuring that we break the patterns of educational and hiring inequities. For these reasons, we were pleased to join with the American Jewish Committee in an amicus brief to the Court supporting the university's affirmative action policy.


In allowing to stand Grutter v. Bollinger (the University of Michigan Law School case upholding race conscious standards as one among other admission standards), today's ruling allows to stand a vital tool in our arsenal aimed at maintaining more than 50 years of progress intended to correct historic injustice in our society.


The University of Texas's admissions program guaranteeing admission to any student whose record of achievement is within the top 10% of their high school class, as well as applying a formula that includes race among other considered factors, seeks to achieve a diverse student body for the benefit of all students. Even this program was embraced with mixed feelings by the civil rights community since it often pulled less qualified candidates e.g. from an underfunded rural school rather than from a better larger school. Some of those who are then accepted are simply unprepared. Nonetheless, we appreciate that the Court has upheld the principle that universities may consider, among other factors, racial and ethnic diversity in their admissions policies.


As a Jewish people who have historically known the injustice of discrimination and the way in which its effects linger long after the discriminatory acts themselves, we understand the importance of those programs that seek to offset the impact of past wrongs and achieve justice. Affirmative action has been instrumental in advancing equal opportunity and establishing racial equality. We are pleased that today's decision allows the nation to continue on that path to greater opportunity equality."