Equality under the law: petitions to watch as Supreme Court term comes to an end


PLF’s Equality Under the Law Project litigates to ensure that the government does not treat people differently because of irrelevant factors such as skin color or gender. It envisions a society where everyone is truly equal before the law. Pursuant to this vision, PLF brings or assists in many cases before the Supreme Court of the United States every year.

For example, PLF has been heavily invested in Fisher v. Univeristy of Texas at Austin. In Fisher, UT granted preferences to students of certain races and ethnic backgrounds and PLF filed a brief arguing that the Supreme Court must put a stop to racial discrimination in the nations’ universities. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case later this year.

Fisher is not, however, the only important equality case before the Court right now. June is Supreme Court season at PLF, and PLF’s Equality Under the Law Project is anxiously awaiting Supreme Court decisions on three more certiorari petitions. Before the Court ends its term later this month, it will determine whether any of those three cases will be heard next term. PLF has been heavily involved in each of these cases; here is what you should be watching for:

In 2009, the Supreme Court held that employers that did not certify the results of a race-neutral promotion exams could be liable under Title VII to candidates who were not promoted due the refusal to certify. The corollary to this holding was that an employer that did certify such results would be immune from liability for any resulting racial disparities in the promotions. Briscoe asks whether a lower court may disregard the Supreme Court’s express guidance and create liability for actions which the Supreme Court ordered an employer to undertake as a remedy for a Title VII violation. PLF’s brief arguing that lower court may not blatantly disregard the Supreme Court’s holdings can be found here.

  • Student Doe 1 v. Lower Merion School District:
    petition set for conference on June 14

May a school district classify neighborhoods by race so as to redistrict attendance zones and achieve a racially balanced student body? PLF’s brief arguing that school districts shouldn’t be able to racially balance students in order to get a “preferred mix” can be found here. Read more about PLF’s support of the minority students affected by the school district’s discriminatory policy here and here.

Can a state or municipality create tax exemptions that are available only to members of certain races? PLF’s brief arguing that Hawaii can’t give special tax breaks to Native Hawaiians because of their race can be found here. Read more about Hawaii’s race-based property tax scheme here.