AAUP Joins Appellate Brief Supporting Affirmative Action

The AAUP joined last week with the American Council on Education and thirty-nine other higher education associations in filing an amicus brief supporting a district court judge's decision in a case that challenged Harvard's admissions policy, alleging discrimination against Asian American applicants. The AAUP had joined in submitting an earlier amicus brief for that case in 2018. The district court ruled in favor of Harvard, finding that its policy did not illegally discriminate. Both the earlier brief and the appellate brief emphasized the educational value of a diverse student body in advancing learning, enriching campus environments, and preparing students to thrive in an increasingly diverse workforce and society.

The case under appeal, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. Harvard, is the latest in a series of lawsuits in recent decades that have sought to prevent colleges and universities from considering race as a factor in admissions. The plaintiff, an organization founded and led by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, alleges that Harvard engages in "racial balancing" and holds Asian Americans to a higher standard rather than applying race-neutral criteria. 

The AAUP's stance in both briefs in this case is consistent with its long history of supporting affirmative action. Over forty years ago, we filed an amicus brief in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke to protect the primacy of the faculty role in developing educationally appropriate admissions criteria. In 2016, we joined in an amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austinanother case initiated by Blum—that argued that consideration of race in the admissions process is appropriate. The Supreme Court affirmed the use of race in admissions in that case.

A decision on the appeal will likely not be issued until at least late 2020.


Publication Date: 
Wednesday, May 27, 2020