Press Release

33 Asian American groups and academics file post-trial amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard

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The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and 32 Asian American groups and higher education faculty filed a post-trial amicus brief on Wednesday, urging a Massachusetts federal court to reject the claim that Harvard’s admissions policies intentionally discriminate against Asian Americans.

The lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard University, was filed in 2014 by a conservative activist committed to dismantling affirmative action. A three-day trial in Boston ended on November 2, 2018, after several students of color, including Asian Americans, testified about the benefits of race-conscious admissions and a diverse educational environment.

Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director, said: “Significantly, not a single Asian American applicant offered testimony claiming to be a victim of discrimination. Harvard’s individualized admissions process, which takes race into account, actually helps to dispel the harmful ‘model minority’ myth by recognizing the vast ethnic, language, and socioeconomic diversity within the Asian American community.”

The post-trial amicus brief dispels misperceptions about Harvard’s consideration of “personal factors” in the admissions process and cites deficiencies in the limited statistical analysis by SFFA’s expert witness. SFFA’s analysis excluded consideration of almost one-third of the students who were admitted, including athletes and the children of employees and alumni. As Harvard’s expert demonstrated, when this evidence was included in the statistical analysis, there was no discrimination against Asian Americans.

Ken Kimerling, AALDEF legal director and one of the attorneys for Amici, pointed out that very little of SFFA’s evidence at trial dealt with Harvard’s treatment of Asian Americans. Kimerling said: “Now that the trial is over, it is clear that Asian Americans were simply used by SFFA, whose agenda was not to help Asians but to oppose affirmative action for Blacks and Latinos. We have not identified any direct or circumstantial evidence sufficient to prove that Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian Americans, and we urge the Court to find in favor of Harvard’s race-conscious admissions program.”

Foley Hoag LLP is pro bono co-counsel representing the Amici.

In addition to AALDEF, 32 Asian American groups and higher education faculty are Co-Amici:

18 Million Rising
Asian American Federation
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans United
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Asian Pacific American Network
Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance
Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Chinese Progressive Association
Coalition for Asian American Children & Families
Japanese American Citizens League
Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

(Institutional affiliations provided for identification purposes only)
Vichet Chhuon - University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Gabriel J. Chin - University of California, Davis School of Law
Tarry Hum - Queens College CUNY
Anil Kalhan - Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
Shirley Lung - City University of New York School of Law
Mari J. Matsuda - William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Kevin Nadal - City University of New York
Philip Tajitsu Nash - University of Maryland at College Park
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials - University of Connecticut
John Kuo Wei Tchen - Rutgers University - Newark
Margaret Y.K. Woo - Northeastern University School of Law
K. Wayne Yang - University of California, San Diego

You can download the amicus brief here.

For more information, contact:
Ken Kimerling
212.966.5932 x203

Margaret Fung
212.966.5932 x201