SB 8 (Summerville-R Dickson) prevents public higher education institutions from granting “preference” to any student, employee, or contractor based on race, diversity, or gender. This legislation would impact numerous university activities, including current campus diversity plans, recruitment of diverse applicant pools for admissions and employment, and the use of targeted outreach programs designed to encourage otherwise underrepresented groups in Tennessee to apply for admission and attend college.
Should the bill pass, it will lead to excessive and costly litigation on a number of fronts. The bill’s language opens the floodgates for a host of legal challenges to admissions, employment, and contracting decisions and also carries with it major concerns of constitutionality.
While the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Jim Summerville (R-Dickson), has applauded the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding a similar piece of legislation in California, he has neglected to point out that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (which holds jurisdiction over Tennessee) found the language to be unconstitutional as recently as November 2012.
The bill faces opposition from the University of Tennessee and the Board of Regents, but there is still considerable drive in the legislature to move it forward.
Even if you have previously contacted your elected officials regarding this bill, it is vital that they continue to hear from you. Ask members of the House Education Subcommittee and Senate Education to oppose HB448/SB8.
Take action as this bill heads to two critical committee hearings– the House Education Subcommittee (Tuesday, 3 PM CST) and the Senate Education Committee (Wednesday, 3 PM CST). The companion bill, HB 448, is sponsored by Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro).
To contact your legislators with just the click of a button, visit the Take Action section of our website.