Harvard University can continue to consider race in its admissions decisions after a federal appeals court ruled that it isn’t discriminating against Asian-Americans.
The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions had sued to make Harvard abandon the practice and lost. On Thursday, the Boston-based court agreed with the lower court that the nation’s oldest college complies with the law in weighing race as one factor among many to select a diverse class. SFFA is certain to ask the U.S. Supreme Court — now with a 6-3 conservative majority — to reverse the ruling and toss out decades of precedent.
It’s unclear whether the high court will agree to revisit the issue or choose to hear the Harvard case. The University of North Carolina and the University of Texas are defending themselves against similar challenges by SFFA, and President Donald Trump’s Justice Department has sued Yale University over its consideration of race. Those cases, which like Harvard’s come amid a fraught national reckoning on race, are in earlier stages.
SFFA alleged that Harvard put its thumb on the scale in favor of African-American and Hispanic applicants. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs last fall found that the Ivy League school didn’t set racial quotas or give outsize consideration to race when reviewing applicants.
Burroughs also concluded there was no workable “race-neutral” alternative to Harvard’s holistic admissions process to create a diverse student body, which the Supreme Court has upheld as a legitimate educational objective.
The appellate panel affirmed her decision.
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