American Sociological Association

Supporting Policy through Social Science

August 10, 2016

The American Sociological Association (ASA) recently played a key role in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2016 ruling in the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The judgement allowed the university to continue using race as a factor in admissions decisions.

“Scientific research shows that having a diverse student body leads to a number of educational benefits, including a decline in prejudice, improvements in students’ cognitive skills and self-confidence, and better classroom environments,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman.

In October 2015, the ASA and eight other science organizations joined the American Educational Research Association in filing an amicus curie brief with the Supreme Court in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case, urging the court to consider the scientific evidence during its deliberations. The ASA was part of a similar AERA-led effort in 2012. In 2002, ASA submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grutter v. Bolinger case, also about affirmative action in higher education.

Through the years, the ASA has joined with other associations in filing amicus briefs in support of various causes such as marriage equality, same-sex parents and adoption, workplace discrimination and military policies regarding sexual orientation.

“It is the responsibility of the ASA and our sister organizations to ensure that the courts have the necessary social science research on hand to inform their decisions,” Hillsman said. “This is not a responsibility we take lightly.”

Founded in 1905, the ASA has more than 12,000 members and a long history of presenting the consensus research findings of sociologists to American courts for their use in evaluating evidence and legal issues.

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