UPDATED: Oct. 1, 2019 at 5:38 p.m.
Federal Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled Tuesday to uphold Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policies in the lawsuit filed against the University by anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions.
“Ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions. Harvard’s admission program passes constitutional muster in that it satisfies the dictates of strict scrutiny,” Burroughs wrote in her decision.
SFFA filed the lawsuit against Harvard in 2014, alleging that the College’s race-conscious admissions policies discriminates against Asian-American applicants. Over the course of the lawsuit, details about Harvard’s notoriously secretive admissions policies have emerged.
The case went to trial in October 2018. Harvard and SFFA sparred over the College’s admissions policies for three weeks before the decision was left at the hands of Burroughs. Experts intially predicted she would issue her ruling over the summer.
In her ruling, Burroughs wrote that Harvard’s policies meet the Supreme Court’s precedent for acceptable affirmative action admission policies.
“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 in Fisher II,” she wrote.
Edward Blum, the president of SFFA, said in a press release that his organization plans to appeal the ruling to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard’s discriminatory admissions policies. We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants,” he said.
University President Lawrence S. Bacow wrote in a statement Tuesday that the College’s consideration of race in its admissions process “helps us achieve our goal of creating a diverse student body that enriches the education of every student.”
“Everyone admitted to Harvard College has something unique to offer our community, and today we reaffirm the importance of diversity—and everything it represents to the world,” he wrote.
He added that the case has offered an opportunity to students, faculty, staff, and alumni to reflect on their experiences at Harvard.
“I applaud the Harvard students who made their voices heard in this case and during the trial. They made vividly clear the benefits of student body diversity,” he wrote. “I also saw firsthand the intense commitment of many, including all those who testified, and who defended and supported the University, with tremendous acumen and skill, and I am deeply grateful for their excellent work.”
—This is a developing story. Check thecrimson.com for updates.