The AAMC, joined by 32 organizations representing a range of health professional education groups, filed an amicus brief Nov. 2 with the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that was decided once before in 2013.
Two years ago, the Court sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, directing that the university’s consideration of race in admissions be re-examined under a more rigorous “strict scrutiny” standard. In July 2014, the Fifth Circuit again upheld the university’s admissions process. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision, with oral arguments before eight Justices (Justice Kagan has recused herself) set for Dec. 9.
The amicus brief highlights the continuing prevalence of unacceptable health disparities and reinforces the importance of student diversity in health professional education settings. The brief provides the Court with expanded information about how holistic review is tailored to each school’s mission, yields a highly engaged student body, and is being used by more and more health professional education schools.
Medical schools and other health professional schools have a long track record of going beyond academic metrics to a full individualized consideration of student applicants, including personal interviews, to select a student body that matches each school’s mission. This holistic review in admissions, which may flexibly consider race as one of many factors, reflects Supreme Court precedents dating back several decades.
The Court is expected to issue its decision before concluding its term in June 2016.