It wasn’t exactly a secret where our United States Department of Justice, under the stewardship of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, stood on the issue of whether or not Harvard University unfairly discriminates against Asian American applicants. As our readers know all too well, Harvard University is defending itself in a lawsuit in which a group known as Students for Fair Admissions alleges the school disadvantages Asian American applicants in their admissions process as compared to white and underrepresented minority applicants. The United States Department of Justice has sent out many not so subtle signals over the last several months that it sided with SFFA but today, our Justice Department went one step further, publicly offering its support for the group challenging Harvard. Our Justice Department, you see, doesn’t exactly support Affirmative Action and they see this case as a path towards eradicating the use of race in admissions decision-making. But is that a real possibility?
Justice Department Publicly Opposes Harvard
As David Shortell reports in a piece for “CNN” entitled “Justice Department sides with Asian-Americans suing Harvard over admissions policy,” “A filing in the ongoing Massachusetts case is the Trump administration’s most significant entry into the debate over affirmative action and sets up a fight on the diversity policy that could have wide implications for higher education. ‘The record evidence demonstrates that Harvard’s race-based admissions process significantly disadvantages Asian-American applicants compared to applicants of other racial groups — including both white applicants and applicants from other racial minority groups,’ the Justice Department said in court papers Thursday. ‘The evidence, moreover, shows that Harvard provides no meaningful criteria to cabin its use of race; uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions.'”
Civil Rights Change in America Starts with the Populace
Are we surprised that the Justice Department has alas publicly weighed in on this important case? No, surely not. Do we believe Asian Americans face unjust discrimination not only at Harvard but at all highly selective universities in America? Absolutely, without a doubt. Do we think filing suit against Harvard was the best path forward for Asian Americans hoping to challenge this discrimination. No. As we’ve long expressed, we believe that the most important kinds of change in America — civil rights change — start with the populace. It doesn’t start in the courtroom. Selma. Seneca Falls. Stonewall. And while we hope the public spotlight that is currently being shined on Harvard by Students for Fair Admissions serves as a powerful antiseptic to any and all discrimination in admissions, well, consider us skeptics of the DOJ’s motive and consider us skeptics that a court ruling in this case will bring about equality for all in college admissions.
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