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District Court Ruling

Judge rules for Harvard on all counts

In her October 1, 2019 ruling, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs offered an unequivocal affirmation of the principles of diversity and inclusion central to Harvard’s mission, and to the missions of colleges and universities throughout the country. After nearly five years of litigation and a three week trial, Judge Burroughs ruled for Harvard on all counts in a decision that makes clear that Harvard’s admissions policies are consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and lawfully and appropriately pursue Harvard’s interest in diversity.

Highlights from the ruling:

Harvard Does Not Discriminate

“Throughout this trial and after careful review of all exhibits and written submissions, there is no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever or any intentional discrimination on the part of Harvard beyond its use of a race conscious admissions policy, nor is there evidence that any particular admissions decision was negative affected by Asian American identity.”

The testimony of admissions officers that there was no discrimination against Asian American applicants with respect to the admissions process as a whole and the personal ratings in particular was consistent, unambiguous, and convincing.”

Diversity and Inclusion Central in Higher Education

“The students who are admitted to Harvard and choose to attend will live and learn surrounded by all sorts of people, with all sorts of experiences, beliefs and talents. They will have the opportunity to know and understand one another beyond race, as whole individuals with unique histories and experiences. It is this, at Harvard and elsewhere that will move us, one day, to the point where we see that race is a fact, but not the defining fact and not the fact that tells us what is important, but we are not there yet. Until we are, race conscious admissions programs that survive strict scrutiny will have an important place in society and help ensure that colleges and universities can offer a diverse atmosphere that fosters learning, improves scholarship, and encourages mutual respect and understanding.

Harvard’s Admissions Policies are Lawful, Consistent with Supreme Court Precedent

“Ultimately, the Court finds that Harvard has met its burden of showing that its admissions process complies with the principles articulated by the Supreme Court.”

Harvard does not have any racial quotas and has not attempted to achieve classes with any specified racial composition.”

“Consistent with what is required by Supreme Court precedent, Harvard has demonstrated that it uses race as a factor that can act as a ‘plus’ or a ‘tip’ in making admissions decisions.”

“Harvard’s admissions program has been designed and implemented in a manner that allows every application to be reviewed in a holistic manner consistent with the guidance set forth by the Supreme Court.”

“Harvard’s admissions process survives strict scrutiny. It serves a compelling, permissible and substantial interest, and it is necessary and narrowly tailored to achieve diversity and the academic benefits that flow from diversity.”

Race-Neutral Alternatives Are Not Workable

“Harvard has demonstrated that there are no workable and available race-neutral alternatives, singly or taken in combination, that would allow it to achieve an adequately diverse student body while still perpetuating its standards for academic and other forms of excellence.”

No statistically significant difference between white and Asian American applicants

“Based on . . . the Court’s preferred model . . . there is not a statistically significant difference between the chances of admission for similarly situated Asian American and white applicants.”