Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard University

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Thirty-six higher education associations joined ACE in an amicus brief to the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard, prior to the start of the trial in that case. Supported by 130-pages of factual findings and legal conclusions, Judge Allison Burroughs’ ruled for Harvard​ on September 30, 2019, saying: 

IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED: Judgment for the Defendant President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard Corporation). 

Court watchers presume that an appeal from Judge Burroughs’ decision will be filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Analysis on the Decision

The Harvard Admissions Case: Reactions to the Judge's Ruling​
ACE Vice President and General Counsel Peter G. McDonough talks with four experts on diversity in admissions policy about the decision.  ​

Takeaways from the District Court Decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard: A Preliminary Analysis
College Board Access & Diversity Collaborative

Background

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard is a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts ​challenging Harvard University's “holistic” admissions process and its consideration of race and ethnicity when reviewing applications for undergraduate admission. Following lengthy discovery and pre-trial motions, and a forty-page opinion denying cross-motions for summary judgement, a non-jury trial commenced before Judge Allison Burroughs in October 2018. The parties completed post-trial submissions to the court in early 2019. 

Although the case only concerns Harvard, it has been closely watched, since Harvard’s policies and practices may have features similar to those of other institutions with competitive admissions. Furthermore, United States Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, writing the principal opinion in the 1978 landmark case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, cited the “Harvard College program” as an exemplar of permissible race-conscious admissions. 

“This kind of program treats each applicant as an individual in the admissions process,” Powell wrote. “The applicant who loses out on the last available seat to another candidate receiving a ‘plus’ on the basis of ethnic background will not have been foreclosed from all consideration for that seat simply because he was not the right color or had the wrong surname.”

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) alleged in its complaint, filed in 2014, that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American students in its admissions processes. Harvard denies the claim, and went to trial to defend its admissions practices, which Harvard believes to be consistent with federal law informed by a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to Bakke.  

Edward Blum, SFFA’s president, is the architect and driving force behind this lawsuit, and other cases challenging race-conscious admissions practices at colleges and universities, including the unsuccessful attempt in Fisher v. University of Texas to eliminate the use of race as one of many factors in admissions. Blum created SFFA, an organization that purports to work on behalf of Asian-Americans.​​​

​ACE Amicus Briefs
Amicus Brief: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. Harvard
Amicus Brief: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. Harvard
ACE and 36 other higher education organizations submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. District Court in Boston in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. Harvard.
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: Fisher v. University of Texas (II)
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: Fisher v. University of Texas (II)
ACE and 37 other higher education associations filed this brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, as the court prepares to take a second look at UT’s diversity in admissions policy.
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: Fisher v. University of Texas
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: Fisher v. University of Texas
Amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Fisher v. University of Texas, which deals with the university's admissions policy.
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: University of Michigan Admissions Cases
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: University of Michigan Admissions Cases
Amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan in the 2003 cases Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.
ACE Resources
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Resources on the legal challenges to race-conscious admissions, ACE’s amicus briefs in support of UT and more.
ACE Unveils New Resource on the Status of Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education
ACE Unveils New Resource on the Status of Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education
A seminal ACE report shows that while the number of students of color on U.S. campuses continues to rise, gaps in access, attainment, and debt levels remain.
ACE Survey Finds Increased Focus Among College Presidents on Campus Racial Climate
ACE Survey Finds Increased Focus Among College Presidents on Campus Racial Climate
Campus racial climate has become a larger priority for college and university presidents and their institutions, finds a new national online survey by ACE's Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS).
Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape
Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape
This report examines how legal challenges to race-conscious admissions are influencing contemporary admissions practices at selective colleges and universities around the country.
 
 

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