A federal judge has sided with Harvard University, ruling that the Ivy League school does not discriminate against Asian Americans in its affirmative action admission policies.
In a 130-page opinion issued Monday, Judge Allison D. Burroughs noted that Harvard has a diverse group of admissions staff, which includes Asian Americans, that reviews a diverse pool of applicants.
The judge also pointed out that several admission officers had testified there was no racial animus or prejudice in the school’s admissions process.
“Consistent with this, the court finds no persuasive documentary evidence of any racial animus or conscious prejudice against Asian Americans,” wrote Judge Burroughs, an Obama appointee.
Students for Fair Admissions, a group known for challenging affirmative action policies, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Asian American students who said Harvard was trying to keep them out of the institution because of their ethnicity. They argued that the university should be looking at economic diversity among applicants instead of placing a heightened focus on racial diversity.
Edward Blum, a conservative attorney leading the challengers, said he will appeal the ruling.
“We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions [Students for Fair Admissions] presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian American applicants,” Mr. Blum said in a statement, CNN reported.
Harvard admits about 2,000 students a year, and in 2019 received 35,000 applications.
The judge said the school, though it uses race in the admissions process, does not have a specific quota for students from various racial groups.
“The court will not dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster,” Judge Burroughs wrote.
Groups supporting racial diversity in the admissions process said the ruling reassures schools that a “limited and measured consideration of race” is valid and important.
“Today’s ruling rightly recognizes that race-conscious admissions is both lawful and indispensable for ensuring institutions are open and available to students from all walks of life, including racial minorities,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“Race-conscious admissions allows Harvard — and colleges across the country — to cultivate diverse campus environments that move our country forward,” Ms. Clarke added.
Students for Fair Admissions also has a case pending against the University of North Carolina over its use of race-based admissions standards.
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