In December 2018, I wrote about a pending federal case on affirmative action in college admissions. To briefly recap, Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Harvard College under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for deliberately discriminating against Asian Americans in its undergraduate admissions process.
After several months of deliberation, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs has issued her ruling. Judge Burroughs reasoned that Harvard’s race conscious admissions process is intended to achieve diversity. The court concluded that though the admissions program may be imperfect, the “statistical disparities between applicants from different racial groups … are not the result of any racial animus or conscious prejudice.” No evidence showed intentional discrimination beyond Harvard’s use of the race conscious admissions policy. There was also no evidence that any admission decision was negatively affected by Asian American identity or that any racial quotas were imposed. Further, the court found, “for purposes of this case… ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions. Harvard’s admission program passes constitutional muster in that it satisfies the dictates of strict scrutiny.”
Students for Fair Admissions is almost certain to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the U.S. Supreme Court.