Posted on February 27, 2021

Students for Fair Admissions Petitions SCOTUS to Take Up Suit Against Harvard’s Race-Conscious Admissions

Vivi E. Lu, Harvard Crimson, February 25, 2021

The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions petitioned the United States Supreme Court Thursday to review a lower court’s decision upholding Harvard’s race-conscious admissions practices, marking the latest development in a nearly seven-year-long, high-profile legal battle that could determine the future of race-conscious admissions in higher education.

By filing a petition for a writ of certiorari, SFFA President Edward J. Blum said in a press release he hopes the Supreme Court will take up the lawsuit and side against Harvard.

“After six and one-half years of litigation, the hundreds of Asian-American students who were unfairly and illegally rejected from Harvard because of their race may soon have this lawsuit reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Blum said. {snip}


Should the Supreme Court accept SFFA’s petition, Harvard may find a new ally in the U.S. Justice Department under President Joe Biden. Former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department filed a brief in support of SFFA, but legal experts have told The Crimson they expect the Biden administration to reverse that position.


In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Blum explained that SFFA’s appeal presents two essential questions for the Supreme Court to consider: whether it should overturn the court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger — a case allowing universities to consider race in its admissions to promote student diversity — and whether Harvard’s race-conscious admissions practices violate Title VI.

“In essence, what we’re asking the Supreme Court to do is to revisit their jurisprudence that was handed in, like I said, 2003, when the Supreme Court allowed the use of race in university admissions,” Blum said. {snip}

Blum said SFFA’s second question in the appeal is focused more specifically on Harvard’s consideration of race in admissions.

“Is Harvard violating Title VI by penalizing Asian-American applicants, engaging in racial balance over emphasizing race and rejecting workable, race-neutral alternatives?” Blum said. “And the energy behind that question is, has Harvard stepped out of the bounds that Grutter allowed them to use race – that is, their use of race as it pertains to admissions of Asian Americans? Has it exceeded what the law allows?”