There have been two major developments in the past week in the fight against racial and ethnic preferences in university admissions.
First, last week, in Fisher v. University of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied further review of a panel decision that had rejected the challenge to that school’s use of racial and ethnic admission preferences. So we are probably headed back to the Supreme Court in this lawsuit — which is not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all. A good decision in the Fifth Circuit would have been nice, but what’s really needed here is, of course, a Supreme Court decision that puts an end to this nonsense.
Which brings us to the second development. Harvard University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have been sued this week for their racial discrimination in student-admission policies, as explained in this press release by Edward Blum’s Project on Fair Representation. More lawsuits against other schools are promised. The press release also notes, “The plaintiff in both lawsuits — Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) — is a newly-formed, nonprofit, membership organization whose members include highly qualified students recently denied admission to both schools, highly qualified students who plan to apply to both schools, and their parents.”
While litigation is a slow process, yesterday’s lawsuits are extremely important developments and might even, one hopes, have some immediate salutary consequences. For years, universities could engage in this kind of politically correct discrimination with great confidence that the chances of their being sued were small, since plaintiffs were so unlikely to materialize. This was especially true when, as now, the U.S. Department of Education has no interest in policing the use of racial preferences. With this new litigation strategy, and the creation of the SFFA, those days appear to be over. Maybe schools will take notice.
There are a couple of other important points about the lawsuits filed yesterday. The Harvard lawsuit argues, in particular, that Asians have replaced Jews as a group for which a ceiling is set, and really gives chapter and verse on this point. And both lawsuits are explicit in asking for an end to racial preferences, not just an amelioration of them. It will, needless to say, be exciting to present that issue to the justices.