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July 28, 2022

Amicus Brief: SFFA v. Harvard & UNC

Human Rights First joined with Human Rights Advocates in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in SFFA v. Harvard & UNC, a racial justice case regarding university admissions, in support of the university-respondents. 


Our amicus brief asks the Court to reject efforts to overturn over 40 years of Supreme Court precedent that has consistently held that universities’ consideration of racial diversity in student body admissions decisions to accomplish the goal of educating citizen leaders is a compelling state interest that passes constitutional muster. 

Our brief offers a comparative law perspective by discussing the United States’ binding obligations under international law to eliminate race discrimination within its borders and end the historical discriminatory effects of such discrimination.  The U.S. has ratified two international human rights treaties that support diversity prioritization in admissions and a holistic approach to evaluating candidates, the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

Harvard and UNC’s holistic approach to admissions, which prioritize enrolling classes in which students can reap the educational benefits of diversity, comports with international human rights standards that guarantee freedom from racial discrimination for all and account for historical racial inequities in education.