Seeks additional students recently rejected from competitive universities

(Washington, DC) Today, the Project on Fair Representation announces the filing of two lawsuits challenging the racial preference admissions policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Read the complaint against Harvard

Read the complaint against UNC-Chapel Hill

The plaintiff in both lawsuits—Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA)— is a newly-formed, nonprofit, membership organization whose members include  highly qualified students recently denied admission to both schools, highly qualified students who plan to apply to both schools, and their parents.

The Harvard lawsuit alleges the university is engaging in a campaign of invidious discrimination by strictly limiting the number of Asian Americans it will admit each year and by engaging in racial balancing year after year. These discriminatory policies in college admissions are expressly forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment and federal civil rights laws.

Students for Fair Admission’s complaint highlights data and analysis that strongly suggests that white, African-American, and Hispanic applicants are given racial preferences over better qualified Asian-Americans applying for admission to Harvard.

Additionally, the complaint demonstrates that Harvard is not in compliance with the new “strict scrutiny” standards articulated in 2013 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The Fisher opinion unambiguously requires schools to implement race-neutral means to achieve student body diversity before turning to racial classifications and preferences.

The UNC-Chapel Hill lawsuit alleges that, like Harvard, the University is not in compliance with the new Fisher strict scrutiny requirements. Students for Fair Admissions explains in its complaint that UNC has admitted in an amicus brief it submitted to the Supreme Court  in the Fisher case that the school can maintain, and actually increase, racial diversity through race-neutral means if it ends its race-based affirmative action policies. Students for Fair Admissions argues that this compels the university to end its racial classifications and preferences and adopt some combination of race-neutral policies instead.

The discrimination against Asian-Americans at Harvard and both schools’ blatant failure to comply with recent Supreme Court directives with regard to race preferences are emblematic of the behavior of the vast majority of competitive colleges throughout the country. Because of this, Students for Fair Admissions asserts in its complaints that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are inadministratable; a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and federal civil rights laws; and must be ended as a matter of policy and law.

Edward Blum, the director of the Project on Fair Representation, said, “These two lawsuits are the first of what are expected to be several similar challenges to other competitive colleges that continue to unconstitutionally use racial preferences in admission decisions. Students for Fair Admissions encourages any student who was recently rejected from a competitive university to contact us at”

The Harvard complaint documents the school’s long, irrefutable, history of instituting admissions policies to limit the number of Jewish students beginning in the 1920’s. The “Harvard Plan” itself—and the concept of an admissions system based on a “holistic” review of applicants instead of admission based on academic accomplishment—was formulated for the specific purpose of discriminating against Jews. Harvard’s “holistic review” today is primarily a similar tool to limit the number of Asian Americans it admits each year.

Blum continued, “It is especially disconcerting that public data shows that Harvard has purposefully limited the percentage of Asian-American freshman it admits. In fact, the number of Asian-Americans Harvard admits today is lower than it was 20-years ago, even though the number of highly qualified Asian-American applicants to Harvard has nearly doubled. Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans is as deeply troubling today as was the discrimination against Jewish applicants that Harvard perpetrated in the name of ‘holistic’ admissions years ago.”

Blum concluded, “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has no need to continue to use racial and ethnic preferences and should end them now instead of facing years of expensive and polarizing litigation.”

Counsel for SFFA are Mr. William Consovoy and Mr. Thomas McCarthy of Consovoy McCarthy PLLC based in Arlington, Virginia.

The Project on Fair Representation (POFR) is a not-for-profit legal defense fund program that is designed to support litigation that challenges racial and ethnic classifications and preferences in state and federal courts. POFR provided counsel in a number of recent Supreme Court cases including, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. One v. Holder; Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin; and Shelby Co., Alabama v. Holder.