The Federal Court of Appeals on Wednesday questioned allegations that Harvard University discriminated against Asian-American applicants in a lawsuit challenging the use of race in college admissions in the United States.
Members of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel of three judges in Boston questioned why the claims for students for fair admissions (SFFA) were erroneously established, founded by non-profit anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum.
Conservatives have long criticized the verification process. Legal experts say the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing its conservative majority to reconsider past decisions, allowing race to be considered a factor in admissions.
The Blum Group, which considers Asian-American applicants members and supports the administration of President Donald Trump, Argued The Ivy League school is engaged in a “racial balance” that does not allow it to benefit other preferred minority groups such as blacks and Hispanics.
SFFA attorney William Consovy argues that despite high academic scores, Asian Americans are included at lower rates than other groups because of admissions officers who give low “personal” rating scores due to racial stereotypes.
The convoy asked the court to consider how such low scores could be assessed if given to well-qualified block applicants for police or fire jobs.
“I think this court suspects or concerns that this is discrimination and that African-American firefighters or police officers do not actually have worse personal characteristics,” he said.
U.S. Department of Justice attorney Eric Dreiband argues that Harvard did not “seriously consider racial-neutral alternatives” in its approach to admission.
Such arguments have been met with questions from panelists, including U.S. Circuit Judge Juan Torrella, “What is the evidence of racial profiling here?”
Seth Waxman, a Harvard lawyer, argued that the “mountain of evidence” showed that it did not deliberately discriminate against Asian Americans.
He asked the court to uphold the decision of U.S. District Judge Allison Burrows, who ruled last year that Harvard had “no workable and available race-neutral alternatives” to ensure a diverse student body.
U.S. Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch has suggested in previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings that universities should consider race as a factor in resolving the disadvantages faced by minority students due to racism.
“Harvard can actually consider things other than class ranking and the academic achievements of Asian-American applicants,” she says.
Reuters news agency