Harvard Must Stop Discriminating Against Asian American Students

Denver, CO — Feb. 26, 2020 — Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) filed an amicus curiae brief with the First Circuit Court of Appeals late yesterday in support of students fighting to end racial discrimination by the Harvard admissions office. 

An association of students and parents is suing Harvard University to end racial preferences that explicitly discriminate against Asian American applicants. The case is Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.

The plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), is a membership group of more than 20,000 students, parents, and others who believe race should not be a factor in college admissions. Although SFFA lost its case before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts last September, its appeal quickly garnered national attention because it revisits an unresolved issue broached by the U.S. Supreme Court two decades ago.

In the 2003 case, Grutter v. Bollinger, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that, in order to achieve greater racial diversity, colleges could justify the narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions. But Justice Sandra Day O’Connor predicted at the time that in 25 years the need for racial discrimination in university admissions would cease. 

Justice O’Connor’s speculative end date is fast approaching. It is time to end the double standard that has allowed colleges and universities to continue to practice racial discrimination. 

MSLF is sending a strong message to Harvard by filing a brief in support of SFFA’s appeal. Harvard and other universities must recognize that it is unconstitutional and morally unacceptable to reject academically qualified students on the basis of their skin color.

MSLF seeks to build on its previous landmark victories, such as Adarand v. Pena, and force courts to recognize that equality under the law means that race doesn’t outweigh merit. 

“In any other scenario — including in the workplace — what Harvard is doing would be illegal,” said MSLF attorney Brian Gregg. “It is time for universities to end their absurd practice of perpetuating racism in the name of ending racism.”

MEDIA CONTACTS: For interviews with an MSLF attorney contact Nathan Harden, nharden@mslegal.org, or Julia A. Seymour, jseymour@mslegal.org, or call them at 303-292-2021.

Mountain States Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are located outside Denver, Colorado. 

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Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

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