Today, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a nonprofit organization with over 20,000 members, filed its opening brief in two cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court: Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina.
In November 2014, SFFA filed federal lawsuits against Harvard, the nation’s oldest private college, and the University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest public university, alleging that both schools were engaged in unfair, polarizing, and illegal racial discrimination in their admissions policies.
Furthermore, SFFA petitioned the justices to overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, and hold that all institutions of higher education cannot use racial or ethnic classifications and preferences as factors in admissions.
Regarding Harvard, SFFA notes that the college is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by penalizing Asian-American applicants, engaging in racial balancing, overemphasizing race, and rejecting workable race-neutral alternatives. Harvard’s demerits of Asian-American applicant’s personalities are particularly scandalous and inexcusable. Harvard penalizes them because, according to its admissions office, they lack leadership and confidence and are less likable and kind.
Regarding the University of North Carolina, SFFA notes that the university is violating the U. S. Constitution and Title VI by illegally rejecting a race-neutral alternative to racial admissions preferences because the composition of its student body would change, without proving that the alternative would cause a dramatic sacrifice in academic quality or the educational benefits of overall student-body diversity. UNC rejects any race-neutral alternative, even if those alternatives would improve overall student body diversity.
While Harvard and UNC have breached the current legal boundaries that narrowly permit racial classifications and preferences in college admissions, the legal opinion in Grutter allowing these policies was wrong on the day it was decided on June 23, 2003.
Grutter is also internally contradictory. It claims that racial preferences improve diversity because race is a proxy for certain views and experiences. Then it claims that racial preferences break down stereotypes because race is not a proxy for any views or experiences. The latter is, of course, true: A person’s skin color says nothing about who they are, what they think, or where they’ve been. Yet this is a “lesson of life” learned by most at an early age. And if a student’s views aren’t tied to his or her race, then why would the racial makeup of a class predictably change what students learn or discuss? Grutter has no answers.
No one is under any illusions that we live in a post-racial society, or that racial discrimination is a thing of the past. But when our most elite universities place high-schoolers on racial registers and tell the world that their skin color affects what they think and know, what they like and don’t like, they are hurting, not helping.
Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions said, “Recent surveys (2022) by the Pew Research Center reveal that 74% of all Americans do not believe a student’s race should be a factor in college admissions.” The Pew Research report noted:
About eight-in-ten White adults (79%) say race or ethnicity should not factor into admission decisions. By comparison, 68% of Hispanic adults say this, as do about six-in-ten Asian American (63%) and Black (59%) adults. And while 87% of Republicans say race or ethnicity should not be a factor in admissions, that share falls to 62% among Democrats.
Blum added, “In a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation like ours, the college admissions bar cannot be raised for some races and ethnic groups but lowered for others. Our nation cannot remedy past discrimination and racial preferences with new discrimination and different racial preferences.”
Blum noted, “These two cases now at the U.S. Supreme Court are rescue missions for the colorblind legal principles that hold together Americans of all races and ethnicities.
Blum concluded, “The ancient faith that gave birth to our nation’s civil rights laws is the principle that an individual’s race should not be used to help or harm them in their life’s endeavors. It is the hope of the vast majority of all Americans that the justices end these polarizing admissions policies.”
Students for Fair Admissions
2200 Wilson Blvd. #102-13
Arlington, VA 22201
You can view or download the brief below.