“Harvard has failed to show that it does not unlawfully discriminate against Asian-Americans,” the Justice Department said.
WASHINGTON(TIP): The Justice Department lent its support on Thursday, August 30, to students who are suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies that they claim discriminate against Asian-American applicants, in a case that could have far-reaching consequences for the use of affirmative action in college admissions.
In a so-called statement of interest, the department supported the claims of the plaintiffs, a group of Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard. They contend that Harvard has systematically discriminated against them by artificially capping the number of qualified Asian-Americans from attending the school in order to advance less-qualified students of other races.
In its filing, the Justice Department argued that the court should deny Harvard’s request to dismiss the case before trial.
The government said that Supreme Court rulings require that universities considering race in admissions meet several standards. They must define their diversity-related goals and show that they cannot meet those goals without using race as a factor in admissions decisions.
The department argued that Harvard does not adequately explain how race factors into its admissions decisions, leaving open the possibility that the university is going beyond what the law allows.
“Harvard has failed to show that it does not unlawfully discriminate against Asian-Americans,” the Justice Department said in a statement Thursday.
The Harvard case, which was brought by an anti-affirmative-action group called Students for Fair Admissions, is seen as a test of whether a decades-long effort by conservative politicians and advocates to roll back affirmative action policies will ultimately succeed.
That push has broad support from President Trump. The Department of Education and Justice Department said in July that the administration was abandoning Obama-era policies that asked universities to consider race as a factor in diversifying their campuses and would favor race-blind admissions instead.