Supreme Court Asked To Uphold Affirmative Action By Top U.S. Companies

( Major American companies, more than 80 in total, are petitioning the Supreme Court to ultimately uphold affirmative action as a tool that is used in determining admission to college.

On Monday, the group of businesses filed a brief with the high court ahead of the oral arguments in two cases the Supreme Court is set to hear this fall. Affirmative action is a policy that currently allows colleges to use race as one factor in determining who they admit to their institute of higher learning.

The companies, which include GE and Apple, have said that affirmative action is a critical program that helps diverse workforces be built, which ultimately results in better production and more profits.

Thanks to affirmative action, the businesses argued in their brief, they are able to rely on colleges and universities to cultivate student bodies that are racially diverse. These diverse student bodies then end up yielding a more diverse and highly-educated pool of candidates for jobs that not only meet the needs of the businesses but of their customers as well.

In the amicus brief, the companies wrote:

“The government’s interest in promoting student-body diversity on university campuses remains compelling from a business perspective. The interest in promoting student-body diversity at America’s universities has, if anything, grown in importance.”

In addition to GE and Apple, other signatories of the amicus brief include Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Microsoft, Kraft Heinz, Bayer, Intel, American Airlines, United Airlines and American Express.

The brief continued:

“Prohibiting universities nationwide from considering race among other factors in composing student bodies would undermine businesses’ efforts to build diverse workforces.”

The Supreme Court has upheld affirmative action in multiple cases that began in the late 1970s. Those cases helped set the precedent that colleges are able to use race as one of the many factors at their disposal when making decisions on who to admit to their school. Schools are not allowed to use any mathematical formula or seek to reach a specific quota when trying to diversify an incoming class.

A conservative student group has challenged that practice, though. The group is focused on the undergraduate practices of using affirmative action in college admissions decisions at the oldest public state university in the nation — the University of North Carolina — and the oldest private college in the nation — Harvard University.

Two separate lower courts have rejected the group’s claims to this point. The Supreme Court did agree to hear their cases, though, which could indicate that the conservative justices are more willing to consider the group’s position on the matter of affirmative action.

It’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that the high court will overturn the practice of using race as a determining factor in college admissions. But, it is a positive sign for the conservative student group — and others who support their position — that the Supreme Court is even willing to hear what they have to say.