Back in Nov. 2014, The Project on Fair Representation announced its lawsuit against Harvard University for its use of “ethnically discriminatory policies” in the admissions process. In a nutshell, the lawsuit at hand is being used to challenge the current affirmative action law in court. The plaintiff, in this case, being Asian American students who allege Harvard’s racially conscious admissions process has been implicitly discriminating against them in their own admission chances to achieve diversity.
Throughout the case, Harvard was forced to release lock-and-key parts of their admissions processes to the courts which they long fought against. With access to this and the demographic accounts of students admitted into Harvard, the plaintiff alleged that the university had essentially set a quota on the amount of Asian Americans that were admitted.
Courtesy: Mother Jones
A full year after the trial, a federal judge has ruled that there was no evidence of explicit bias in Harvard’s treatment of Asian-American applicants. This means that, for now, the affirmative action policy is safe. However, the plaintiffs are far from being done. They are now on track to appeal Judge Borroughs’ 130-page ruling to the Supreme Court in order to overturn previous affirmative action cases dating back to 1978. In her year-long deliberation, Judge
Borroughs discussed historical Supreme Court precedent on affirmative action cases and presented detailed evidence with which she made her ruling in favor of Harvard admissions. In it, she stated that Harvard could do a better job of preventing implicit bias. However, she did not agree with the plaintiff’s statistical argument against Harvard having more subjective admissions standards to be prone to discriminatory practices. Harvard argued that they looked at subjective measures, such as sports, internships, and familial background to bring diversity of interests and well-rounded quality students to their freshmen class, not only high-test scores and GPA’s.
This has not been the only case on affirmative action currently being fought. Edward Blum, the same lawyer in the Harvard case, is also pursuing another lawsuit against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over their admissions process. Along with that, another plaintiff is suing the University of California school for using affirmative action in their admissions which has been banned in California since 1996. Not only that, the state of Washington will be voting on whether they would like to keep affirmative action in their public universities’ admissions processes.
Over the next year, the Supreme Court could be making the decision to hear the appealed case and it could likely end or strengthen affirmative action in the admissions process.