NAICU Washington Update

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Harvard in Admissions Case

November 13, 2020

The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has upheld Harvard University’s race-conscious admissions program, setting up a potential showdown on affirmative action at the Supreme Court.
In its ruling, the court rejected allegations that Harvard’s policy unlawfully discriminates against Asian Americans, finding instead that “…Harvard's limited use of race in its admissions process in order to achieve diversity … is consistent with the requirements of Supreme Court precedent.”
It is widely expected that the group challenging Harvard’s policy will appeal the First Circuit’s decision. Given the recent realignment of the balance of power on the Supreme Court, it is possible that such a challenge could result in invalidation of not only Harvard’s admissions program, but also affirmative action programs altogether.
The Harvard lawsuit began in 2014, when the advocacy group Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit alleging that the university’s program unlawfully discriminates against specific groups, including Asian Americans. After a highly publicized trial, a federal district court ruled in favor of Harvard.
Should the case reach the Supreme Court, NAICU is likely to join an amicus brief in support of Harvard University. NAICU joined a similar brief at the appellate level.

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