Harvard admissions discrimination lawsuit wins government support

THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT filed a 37-page brief Thursday, saying Harvard has violated the law by using a personal rating system that improperly considers race. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/VICTOR J. BLUE
/ BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/VICTOR J. BLUE

NEW YORK – The U.S. government backed a lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s admissions processes as biased against Asian-Americans, as the case attacking affirmative action in higher education moves closer to a trial.

The Justice Department filed a 37-page brief Thursday, saying Harvard has violated the law by using a personal rating system that improperly considers race. The U.S. also said the college has failed to demonstrate that its use of race is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest.

“Harvard acknowledges that it voluntarily uses race as a factor in deciding whether to offer certain young adults admission to, and the substantial educational benefits of, its elite institution,” the Justice Department said in its brief. “Harvard seeks to justify this use of race to award educational opportunities as necessary to its pursuit of the ‘educational benefits of diversity.’ But Harvard has failed to carry its demanding burden to show that its use of race does not inflict unlawful racial discrimination on Asian Americans.”

Harvard on Monday argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because their case is based on “invective, mis-characterizations and in some cases outright misrepresentations.”

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The Ivy League school also said that the judge should rule in Harvard’s favor because the suit is nothing but a “litigation vehicle” advancing the ideological objectives of Edward Blum, the leader of the plaintiffs’ group that filed the case.

A spokeswoman for Harvard University didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Patricia Hurtado is a reporter for Bloomberg News.