by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Justice Department on Thursday filed a statement of interest siding with a group that alleges in a lawsuit that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants.
The group, Students for Fair Admissions, alleges in its lawsuit first filed in 2014 that the school discriminated against them during the admissions process and ignored results from its own internal investigation showing bias against Asian-American applicants.
The Justice Department first weighed in on the case in April, urging the federal judge overseeing the case in Boston to release years of admission data.
Court documents released in June show that in addition to admitting applicants by using admissions measures such as test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities, the university also used “personal ratings” based on “subjective factors” such as personality and respectability.
The documents show that Asian-Americans — despite scoring higher than applicants of any racial or ethnic group on admissions measures such as test scores and grades — were brought down by their personal ratings.
“No American should be denied admission to school because of their race. As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, Harvard has a responsibility to conduct its admissions policy without racial discrimination by using meaningful admissions criteria that meet lawful requirements,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement Thursday. “This case is significant because the admissions policies at our colleges and universities are important and must be conducted lawfully.”