Harvard University filed its brief with the nation’s highest court today, emphatically defending its right to consider a candidate’s race when evaluating their case for admission to the Ivy League institution. The brief, the school’s latest salvo in an eight-year battle to preserve its right to admit the most diverse class possible, outlines the argument Harvard’s attorneys will make to the Supreme Court this coming fall in one of the most significant cases on their docket in decades.
As Christina Pazzanese reports for The Harvard Gazette in a piece entitled “Harvard files brief with Supreme Court in admissions case,” “The Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the 14th Amendment ‘does not require us to disregard the commonsense reality that race is one among many things that shape life experiences in meaningful ways. And nothing in the text or history of the Fourteenth Amendment suggests that universities must uniquely exclude race from the multitude of factors considered in assembling a class of students best able to learn from each other,’ Harvard’s legal team said in the brief. Harvard President Larry Bacow underscored the University’s commitment to campus diversity in a statement released shortly after the brief was filed. ‘In our brief filed with the Supreme Court today, we have made a powerful case that enrolling a diverse student body is central to fulfilling our educational mission, that diversity enhances education for all, and that Harvard does not discriminate against any group in its admissions practices, a conclusion affirmed by two separate lower court decisions,’ he said.”
Three prior Supreme Court cases, Harvard’s attorneys argue in today’s brief, affirm the university’s right to consider race in its admissions process: Regents of the Univ. of California v. Bakke (a 1978 case), Grutter v. Bollinger (a 2003 case), and Fisher v. Univ. of Texas (a 2016 case). But 2022 is not 2016 nor is it 2003 or 1978. We’re in a post-Roe v. Wade America. And soon, we might well be in a post-Affirmative Action America, too. We hope that won’t be the case but the tea leaves suggest the practice of considering race in admissions decision-making is not long for America’s universities. Stay tuned.
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