Year: 2012 (Date of Decision: 26 April, 2012)
Forum, Country: Supreme Court; Brazil
Standards, Rights: Reasonableness; Proportionality; Non-discrimination and equal protection of the law; Right to education
Summary Background: The issue at stake in this case is the constitutionality of racial quotas in the admission process at the University of Brasilia.
Holding: In this case, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court declared the racial quotas in University admission processes to be constitutionally lawful. The case referenced national constitutional law as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [p. 8]. The Court stated that these affirmative policies set a plural and diversified academic environment, and aimed at overcoming historically entrenched social distortions as well as to promote the principle of de facto equality as applied to racial discrimination in education [p. 47].
The Court addressed the issues of proportionality and reasonability as standards to evaluate the constitutionality of policies aimed at achieving racial equality. The decision concluded that the means employed by the University were distinguished by proportionality and reasonability to the ends pursued, particularly given the transient nature of their scope of application (with the inclusion of a periodic review of as to results) [p. 45].
The President of the Court asserted that the Constitution has given legitimation to every public policy promoting historically and culturally marginalized social sections: “[t]hose are affirmative policies entitling every human being the right to an equal and respectful treatment. This is the way we build up a nation”. During the Court session, the Ministers (the title given to Supreme Court Judges in Brazil) stated that the quotas were compatible with the Constitutional mandate to establish a free, fair and united society and the eradication of social marginalization and inequality.
Additional Comments: The decision confirmed the constitutionality of racially-based affirmative action programs adopted by other universities in Brazil. Brazilian universities who have adopted affirmative action can now preserve these programs.
Link to Full Case: http://www.acoes.ufscar.br/admin/legislacao/arquivos/arquivo13.pdf
- 254. See the information provided by the Federal Tribunal, accessible at: http://www2.stf.jus.br/portalStfInternacional/cms/destaquesClipping.php?sigla=portalStfDestaque_en_us&idConteudo=207138↵