A group that opposes affirmative action said it would appeal an Oct. 1 ruling in which U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs concluded that Harvard’s “holistic” admissions policy does not violate the Constitution by giving Blacks and Hispanics what the university terms a “plus factor” advantage denied to Asian Americans and whites.
Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed a notice on Oct. 4 with the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The group says it will appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Affirmative action is a remedy to decades of systemic and pervasive racist policies and practices against Blacks in colleges and the workplace. Affirmative action was later expanded to include other groups that have faced historic and persistent discrimination.
Meghan Liu, a 2019 graduate of Harvard Law School, wrote that Burroughs’ decision is not a loss for Asian Americans.
“It may be tempting for many Asian Americans, and others, to dismiss this lawsuit as ‘a hullabaloo by salty people who didn’t get into Harvard,’ to quote an Asian American friend,” wrote Liu in a commentary to the Washington Post.
“But we need to see the bigger picture. This lawsuit is symptomatic of larger questions that Asian Americans cannot continue avoiding, such as what it means to be Asian American, how to be allies for racial justice, assimilation versus representation, and the widening socioeconomic gap within our communities.”
Six years of Harvard admissions data show that, based on grades, test scores, and other factors, Asian American applicants with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 35 percent chance if they’re white, 75 percent chance if they’re Latino, and 95 percent chance if they’re Black.
Can you imagine the outrage if it were the inverse? If Blacks had only a 25 percent chance to get in and Asian Americans had a 95 percent chance?
SFFA will likely get its wish. The next stop for this case is likely the U.S. Supreme Court, where four of the nine justices are graduates of Harvard Law School— and about the same number have previously expressed concerns about affirmative action.
Expect to see high drama over this case in the nation’s highest court.