Press Release

AALDEF files amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard

 
 
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The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and 34 Asian American groups and higher education faculty today filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief in Massachusetts federal court, opposing a challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy (Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard).

“Asian Americans are an extremely diverse population with more than 50 ethnic groups, 100 languages, and a broad range of immigration, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds,” said Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director. “Instead of treating Asian Americans as a monolithic group, the individualized race-conscious admissions process at Harvard helps to create a more diverse student body that benefits all students, including Asian Americans.”

The plaintiff organization SFFA was created by Edward Blum, who has a long history of opposing affirmative action and restricting voting rights. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his claims in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and reaffirmed that race may be considered as one of several factors in the college admissions process. Blum has continued his crusade against affirmative action by recruiting Asian American students to assert that Harvard discriminated against them.

In their brief, AALDEF and other Amici contend that by improperly grouping the diverse pool of Asian American applicants into a single “Asian” category, SFFA actually perpetuates the “model minority” myth and fails to disclose that its requested remedy–the elimination of race-conscious admissions–would mostly benefit white applicants, not Asian Americans. The Amici reiterated their opposition to caps, quotas, or any negative action against Asian Americans but asserted that SFFA improperly conflates negative action with a race-conscious admissions policy that recognizes the importance of diversity.

Ken Kimerling, AALDEF legal director and one of the attorneys for Amici, said: “This case is hotly contested by witnesses and experts on both sides. However, SFFA has not submitted facts to support a finding of intentional discrimination against Asian Americans.” He noted that SFFA has not presented any supporting statements by the 40 or more persons involved each year to review and analyze the applications for admission. Kimerling said: “If there were a policy, written or unstated, to discriminate against Asian Americans, one or more of the 40 persons would have spoken up about it in the past decade. Clearly, the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment must be denied.”

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

In addition to AALDEF, 34 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
GAPIMNY
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

Individuals
(Institutional affiliations provided for identification purposes only)

Vichet Chhuon-University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Gabriel J. Chin-University of California, David School of Law
Tarry Hum, MCP, PhD-Queens College CUNY
Anil Kalhan-Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
Nancy Leong-University of Denver Sturm College 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, PhD-City University of New York
Philip Tajitsu Nash-University of Maryland at College Park
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials-University of Connecticut
Sona Shah-University of Texas at Austin
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.

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For more information, contact:
Ken Kimerling, Legal Director
kkimerling@aaldef.org
212.966.5932 x203

Margaret Fung, Executive Director
mfung@aaldef.org
212.966.5932 x201