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  • Curt Levey

CFJ Urges SCOTUS to End Race-Based Admissions at Harvard and Other Schools

The Committee for Justice—along with the Pacific Legal Foundation and other organizations and individuals—has filed a Supreme Court amicus brief in support of Students For Fair Admissions, which is challenging the use of racial preferences in admissions by Harvard College and the University of North Carolina.

The consolidated Harvard and UNC cases directly challenge the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger that universities can seek broad-based diversity. Grutter was litigated by CFJ president Curt Levey and his colleagues at the Center for Individual Rights.

CFJ’s amicus brief in the current cases was authored by Wencong Fa and other attorneys at the Pacific Legal Foundation. The cases will be argued before the High Court this fall.

Committee for Justice president Curt Levey issued the following statement:

The Committee for Justice got involved in this case because ensuring that the judiciary engages in objective, textualist interpretation of our statutes and the Constitution—including the prohibitions on racial discrimination in the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—is central to CFJ’s mission of promoting the rule of law and preserving the Constitution’s protection of individual liberty.

This case affords the Supreme Court an important opportunity to remind schools that the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment is an individual right that requires “treat[ing] individuals based on their personal qualities instead of their membership in a crudely defined racial group” and “stands in stark contrast to equality of outcomes among groups—which has no basis in the Constitution” (quoting our brief). As the late Justice Scalia pointed out, “under our Constitution there can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race.”

Instead, we note, “under the guise of furthering an amorphous interest in the educational benefits of diversity,” Harvard and UNC engage in racial balancing, which the Court has made clear is illegal.

Our brief points out that racial balancing “at universities like Harvard … have a long and deplorable pedigree. Roughly a century ago, Harvard maintained a ‘holistic’ admissions process designed to limit the number of Jewish students enrolled at the university” under the guise of seeking diversity. Today, the same excuse is used to limit the number of Asian American students.

While the Court in Grutter approved a limited role for race in college admissions, our brief points out that “the pernicious practice of racial balancing has spread to K-12 education, where it is now depriving children of spots at some of the best public schools in the nation”—particularly Asian American students“when administrators determine there are ‘too many’ or ‘too few’ students of certain races.” This “illustrates how difficult it is to constrain racial discrimination once courts open Pandora’s Box even a crack.”

Finally, our amicus brief emphasizes that “the constitutional path toward advancing opportunity for all is not creating racial entitlements, but tearing down obstacles to opportunity.” In contrast, racial preferences create a mismatch between students and their school, rather than creating opportunities. Research indicates, that as a result, “[s]tudents who receive racial preferences are more likely to transfer to other schools, take longer to graduate, and are less satisfied with their college experience.”


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