Office of General Counsel

Amicus Briefs

The OGC has a long and continuous history of supporting national issues focused on diversity and inclusion. With the support of Brown’s Presidents and OGC’s counsel, Brown has joined national organizations (e.g., American Association of Universities, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) and peer institutions in submitting numerous and varied amicus briefs in federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, on issues of immigration, affirmative action, and diversity in admissions.

Diversity in Admissions

On October 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed an appeal of the district court bench trial decision in favor of Harvard University to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Plaintiffs allege that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American students in its admission process. On November 12, 2020, the First Circuit decided in favor of Harvard. Petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court filed February 25, 2021.
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On November 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American student applicants in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. A bench trial resulted in a September 30, 2019 decision in favor of Harvard University, which Plaintiff has appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
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See also: Fisher I. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the lower court's decision that the University of Texas' admissions policy satisfied the strict scrutiny standard under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On June 23, 2016, The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) issued a 4-3 decision in favor of the University of Texas.
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On April 7, 2008, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the USDC Western District of Texas alleging that the University of Texas violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by considering race in admissions. SCOTUS issued a 7-1 decision in favor of Plaintiff and that the Fifth Circuit erred by not applying the strict scrutiny standard to the admissions procedures. The case was remanded back to the appellate court.
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In 1997, Plaintiff Grutter filed a class action suit alleging that the University of Michigan Law School's use of racial preferences in admissions violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. On June 30, 2003,The SCOTUS issued a 5-4 decision in favor of the University of Michigan Law School.
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In October 1997, Plaintiffs filed a class action suit alleging that the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in admissions was violating the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. One June 30, 2003, the SCOTUS issued a 6-3 decision in favor of the students.
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In 1992, Plaintiffs were denied admission to the University of Texas School of Law and filed suit, arguing that their test scores were better than other students admitted due to preference given to racial minorities, violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. On August 19, 1994, the court decided in favor of the University, and was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 18, 1996.
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Immigration and Citizenship

On October 19, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a complaint to block enforcement of two new immigration regulations that were fast tracked by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security. The rules target employment-based immigration, and particularly the H-1B program. The rules were issued as interim final regulations, bypassing public notice and comment. On December 1, 2020, the court ruled in favor of the Chamber of Commerce.
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On July 10, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a complaint challenging the new directive for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued on July 6, 2020 by the Dept. of Homeland Security prohibiting international students from returning to or remaining in the U.S. if the colleges they attend adopt online-only instruction for Fall 2020, or if students choose online-only instruction. On July 14, 2020, the directive was rescinded.
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On July 8, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a complaint challenging the new directive for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued on July 6, 2020 by the Dept. of Homeland Security prohibiting international students from returning to or remaining in the U.S. if the colleges they attend adopt online-only instruction for Fall 2020, or if students choose online-only instruction. On July 14, 2020, the directive was rescinded.
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On June 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint challenging the Dept. of Homeland Security's regulation allowing nonimmigrants in the U.S. on student visas to remain in the U.S. for up to three years after completing their degree to work (Optional Practical Training - OPT program). The case is currently pending.
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Three consolidated cases filed in California, the District of Columbia and New York argued that the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) violates the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as the rights of DACA recipients. On June 18, 2020, the SCOTUS issued a 5-4 decision keeping DACA in place for now, and remanded the case back to the federal court.
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On October 23, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a complaint challenging a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy changing the way the agency calculates the number of days a nonimmigrant foreign student has been present in the U.S. without legal permission. On May 3, 2019, summary judgment was granted in favor of Plaintiffs, and the case has been appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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On September 24, 2017, President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 suspending US entry for citizens of 7 countries was set to expire. President Trump issued Proclamation No. 9645 restricting travel to the US by citizens of 8 countries. The Proclamation was challenged in federal court as violating the President's authority and Establishment Clause. On June 26, 2018, the SCOTUS issued a 5-4 decision in favor of President Trump.
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NCAA

In 2009, student-athletes filed a lawsuit against NCAA arguing that its restrictions on non-cash education-related benefits violated the Sherman Act antitrust law. The district court found for the athletes, holding that the NCAA must allow certain academic benefits but may limit cash/cash-equivalent awards for academic purposes. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, and the case is pending before the Supreme Court.
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In November 1993, Plaintiffs, NCAA sports coaches, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court Central District of California (transferred to District of Kansas), alleging that an NCAA rule limiting their compensation violated Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1-7. On August 2, 1995, summary judgment was granted in favor of Plaintiffs. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed on January 23, 1998.
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Patents and Research

In 2005, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that HIV detection kits used by Roche were infringing on patents by using federally funded inventions developed by a Stanford School of Medicine professor. On June 6, 2011, the SCOTUS issued a 7-2 decision in favor of Roche.
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Protection of Academic Freedom

On November 3, 2020, Plaintiffs, LGBTQ advocacy groups, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn an Executive Order issued by President Trump banning some diversity training in federal agencies and their contractors. Brown University joined 7 other universities in filing the Amicus Brief in support of Plaintiffs. On December 22, 2020, the court granted a preliminary injunction against the application of the Executive Order.
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Rosalie Tung filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging she was denied tenure due to her sex and race. The EEOC requested access to Ms. Tung's confidential peer review file. The University refused to produce it in order to maintain the confidentiality promised to reviewers. On January 9, 1990, the SCOTUS issued a unanimous decision in favor of the EEOC.
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Title IX - Discrimination

In 2008, the chair of Petitioner's dissertation committee resigned, and Petitioner filed suit claiming unlawful retaliation for complaints she had made regarding unequal treatment of women. On June 4, 2010, summary judgment was granted for the University. On March 21, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and required a jury trial. The jury decided in favor of the University on December 12, 2013.
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In June 1992, Respondents, former members of the Colorado State women's softball team, filed suit in the US District Court for Colorado alleging that Colorado State violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by terminating the women's varsity softball program. A bench trial resulted in a decision in favor of the students and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision on July 7, 1993.
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Title VII - Equal Pay Act

In 1996, Plaintiff, Barbara Lavin-McEleney, a tenured professor at Marist College, filed a complaint for pay inequity under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and the New York Human Rights Law. A jury trial resulted in a decision in favor of Plaintiff, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision on February 2, 2001.
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