Posted on June 29, 2023

Harvard Responds to Supreme Court Affirmative-Action Loss

Abigail Anthony, National Review, June 29, 2023

The Harvard University president, vice president, provost, and 15 deans signed an email reaffirming the institution’s commitment to diversity after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action on Thursday.

The Supreme Court ruled that the race-conscious admissions policies practiced by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The ruling was 6-3 against UNC and 6-2 against Harvard. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case due to conflicts of interests.

“We write today to reaffirm the fundamental principle that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences,” reads an internal email to Harvard University, which was obtained by National Review.

The email states that “diversity and difference are essential to academic excellence” and “to prepare leaders for a complex world, Harvard must admit and educate a student body whose members reflect, and have lived, multiple facets of human experience.”

“Harvard must always be a place of opportunity, a place whose doors remain open to those to whom they had long been closed, a place where many will have the chance to live dreams their parents or grandparents could not have dreamed,” the letter states.

A cert petition filed by the Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., argued that an African American applicant in the fourth-lowest academic decile has a higher chance of acceptance than an Asian American applicant in the top decile, while an Asian American student in the fourth-lowest decile has less than a one percent chance of acceptance.

“For almost a decade, Harvard has vigorously defended an admissions system that, as two federal courts ruled, fully complied with longstanding precedent,” the internal Harvard letter states.

Although the letter affirms “We will certainly comply with the Court’s decision,” it adds that “In the weeks and months ahead, drawing on the talent and expertise of our Harvard community, we will determine how to preserve, consistent with the Court’s new precedent, our essential values.”