Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy rightly acknowledges race-based barriers continue to pervade our society and affirmative action must be upheld to ensure selective colleges do not overlook remarkable, well-rounded underrepresented students of color the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will argue today before the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Race is an integral part of a students’ identity, and Harvard’s careful consideration of race in a holistic and lawful manner showcases how affirmative action programs are advantageous to our education system and to combat racial injustice.
The case, SFFA v. Harvard, is being appealed from a lower-court ruling which validated the race-conscious admissions policy. The national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law represents a group of multiracial prospective and current students, as well as alumni, who are Black, Latinx, Native American and Southeast Asian. Four of these students testified at the trial in 2018, and the Lawyers’ Committee will highlight their testimony and experiences to demonstrate how Harvard’s individualized admissions process allowed them to showcase their full strengths and abilities.
“If we fail to have racially diverse and inclusive campuses and classrooms, then we will only be aiding the systemic racism and structural inequality that exists in this country,” said David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Race touches every part of our clients’ lives, and a color blind admissions policy is counter-productive to creating an environment that is representative of the world surrounding us. The court must not undo 40 years of progress on improving racial diversity in higher education.”
For more than 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that it is lawful for universities to have an admissions plan that considers race as one of many factors. Student body diversity leads to greater cross-cultural understanding, breaks down negative stereotypes and gives all racial groups the ability to engage with modern issues. Despite this strong precedent and clear benefits, SFFA is seeking to eliminate the consideration of race altogether.
The arguments will begin at 2 p.m. EST Watch a live stream here.
During a Tuesday tele-presser, the national Lawyers’ Committee’s chief counsel and senior deputy director, Jon Greenbaum, previewed the group’s arguments. Listen to an audio press call previewing our arguments here.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is the only civil rights organization currently involved in all of the major pending cases challenging race conscious admissions efforts, including a case involving the University of North Carolina set for trial this fall.