Tech companies back affirmative action before US Supreme Court

Force for good: IBM is just one of the big businesses throwing its weight behind the affirmative action push, citing a "profound under-representation" of minorities and women in science and technology professions.

WASHINGTON: Three major companies, citing the under-representation of minorities in science and technology fields, are urging the US Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in university admissions in a closely watched case to be argued next month. 

Technology services company IBM Corp, chemical manufacturer DuPont and chip maker Intel Corp signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed this week backing the University of Texas at Austin. 

Affirmative action is a policy under which racial minorities historically subject to discrimination are given certain preferences in education and employment. 

The companies said in the brief there is a "profound under-representation" of minorities and women in science and technology professions. 

Employers are already suffering from a lack of qualified candidates, meaning the university admissions process is "a critical step where consciousness of the under-utilization problem and the urgent need to correct it must be brought to bear," the brief said. 

Other companies including Cisco Systems Inc, Marriott International Inc and United Airlines Inc filed a separate brief backing the university. They stressed their interest in hiring "highly trained employees of all races, religions, cultures and economic backgrounds." 

The court on Dec 9 will hear the case brought by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant denied admission to the entering class of 2008 at the flagship state university in Texas. 

Court papers in support of both sides have piled up in recent weeks. The Obama administration, private and public universities and civil rights groups are among those backing affirmative action. 

Fisher's supporters include conservative and libertarian organisations such as the Cato Institute and the Centre for Individual Rights. 

The high court has considered Fisher's case once before. In 2013, it did not directly rule on the programme's constitutionality but ordered a federal appeals court to scrutinise it more closely. In 2014, the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the university. 

IBM, DuPont and Intel did not file a similar brief when the high court first heard Fisher's case. DuPont and IBM did join a brief filed in a 2003 case in which the justices upheld the University of Michigan Law School's use of affirmative action in admissions. 

That ruling was an example of how friend-of-the-court briefs can influence the justices. In the majority opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor cited several briefs supporting affirmative action, including one filed by retired military officers and another by companies. 

A ruling in the case is due by the end of June. — Reuters

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In Tech News

WhatsApp multi-device feature limitations: What you may not be able to do
Study: Shoppers in Singapore tend to reuse log-in details, passwords
NTU scientists develop robots the size of a rice grain that may help in surgery in future
MCMC: Communications, Internet coverage around Kota Tinggi fully restored
Amazon opens its largest-yet cashierless grocery in US
Bitcoin drops as hashrate declines with China mining crackdown
Huge changes for Internet and Big Tech under US antitrust proposal
Will we use individual flying capsules for quick trips in tomorrow's cities?
End of road for controversial Snapchat ‘speed filter’
Carving a career in eSports

Stories You'll Enjoy