(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday will consider whether Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants in a closely monitored case that could affect whether U.S. colleges can use race as a factor in admission.
The 1st United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston will hear arguments in a lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a non-profit organization founded by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, and supported by the Trump administration.
The group sued Harvard in 2014, claiming it was illegally engaging in "racial balancing" that artificially limits the number of Asian-American students at the Ivy League school. Harvard denies the allegation, saying it legally promotes the diversity of the student body in accordance with the Supreme Court's precedent.
Conservatives have long criticized positive action. The U.S. Department of Justice under Republican President Donald Trump has supported the SFFA, arguing in a brief "friend of the court" that Harvard "actively pursues racial balancing that the Supreme Court's precedent prohibits."
USA. District Judge Allison Burroughs last year ruled that while Harvard's admissions program is "not perfect," it had no "workable and accessible racially neutral options" to ensure a diverse student body. universities believe that race is a factor in remedying disadvantages that minority students have been subjected to due to racial prejudice.
The Department of Justice has launched a related investigation into Harvard. In August, the department threatened to sue Yale University over allegations that it discriminated against Asian-American and white applicants through racial admissions. Yale denies the allegations.
Mr. Blum said he was prepared to appeal to the Supreme Court, if necessary, whose composition has changed since the last issue examined.
Deborah Archer, a professor of law at New York University, said it was unlikely that any of the Supreme Court's five-member Conservative majority would join liberal courts to protect positive action.
"Their records before joining the court raise doubts that anyone would do that," she said.