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AFFIRMATIVE ACTION 51: Let's Create a Level Playing Field, with Liliana Garces

 "I want to help the field of education realize its potential to help realize all Americans' potential." Liliana Garces holds a J.D. and a Ph.D., and was co-counsel in presenting amicus briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States. She explained to me how the courts have thought about the relation between racial and gender inequities (discrimination but also unequal conditions) and college admissions — and how the courts' conceptions shape the admission policies over the past few decades. Universities must show a "compelling interest" in the educational benefits of diversity — and they must not use affirmative action to redress past or current discrimination. How does this work out in the real world?

Dr. Garces is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and an Affiliate Faculty at the University of Texas School of Law. Her research is grounded in the intersection of law and educational policy, with a focus on access, diversity, and equity in higher education, and the use and influence of social science research in law. 

Combining her expertise in law and education, Dr. Garces has represented the education community in the filing of legal briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases that have played consequential roles in interpreting law around race-conscious policies in education. She served as counsel of record and co-wrote, with leading scholars in the field, amicus briefs joined by hundreds of social scientists in the following cases: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District (2007) (553 signatories); Fisher v. University of Texas I (2013) (444 signatories); Fisher v. University of Texas II (2016) (823 signatories); and Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (2014) (filed by The Civil Rights Project/Projecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles). Most recently, she co-authored an amicus brief filed by 531 social scientists and scholars in support of Harvard's defense of its race-conscious admissions policies in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University.