Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) filed two amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court in SFFA v. Harvard, affirming its longstanding support for race-conscious admissions in higher education.
The five organizations comprising the Advancing Justice affiliation, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Lawyers For Civil Rights, and pro bono counsel Arnold & Porter filed an amicus brief on behalf of a multiracial group of alumni students of color at Harvard who support holistic admissions policies that take into account the entirety of a student’s assets and experiences.
In their brief, the student and alumni amici attested to how a diverse campus benefits all students, including addressing racial isolation and increasing cross-racial understanding and cultural competency that better prepared them for their professional careers. Asian American amici also affirmed benefiting from race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard, which provided them the opportunity to share their whole story, including their race and ethnicity, background, and diverse experiences.
The Advancing Justice affiliation with pro bono counsel, Ballard Spahr, submitted a separate amicus brief joined by 37 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights groups, advocacy organizations, professionals, and student organizations in support of race-conscious admissions programs that improve equal access to educational opportunities for all.
The amicus brief affirms that Harvard and UNC’s race-conscious admissions programs do not discriminate against AAPI students, but rather expand their access to higher education. The brief also highlights the educational benefits of racial diversity for AAPI communities and asserts that eliminating the consideration of race in admissions programs will harm AAPI and other students of color.
“For centuries, communities of color, including Asian Americans, have struggled against racial discrimination and faced systemic barriers to education, employment, and immigration, among other challenges,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – AAJC. “Race, ethnicity, and our lived experiences are integral parts of our personal story and collective history. Holistic admissions ensures all students have the opportunity to share their whole story in addition to their academic achievements.”
“Our communities know better than to give into extremist strategist Edward Blum’s years-long mission to deny Black, Latinx, Asian American, and other communities of color equal voting rights and educational opportunities,” said Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “As a parent, my children have had more chances to grow and thrive because of affirmative action, diversity, and anti-discrimination programs in our education systems. As a civil rights lawyer, there’s no question these attacks on the constitutionality of race conscious programs are a thinly veiled strategy to limit educational opportunities for all students of color.”
“For too long, the model minority myth has propagated a false premise that AAPIs don’t benefit from race conscious admissions practices,” said Connie Chung Jose, CEO, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL). “The reality is that our communities also face discrimination and barriers to opportunities that race conscious admissions can address. And for AAPI students and other students of color, having a racially diverse student body is not only important to their educational experience, but often necessary to fully articulate the hurdles, achievements, and personal development experiences intrinsic to college admissions evaluations.”
Justice Roberto A. Rivera-Soto, former Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, former partner/now senior counsel at Ballard Spahr LLP, adds, “We are proud to work with Advancing Justice to support holistic admissions policies that have allowed countless numbers of students to attain great heights and contribute to bettering society for us all. We must continue to cultivate the potential of all students — including all who have struggled and continue to struggle against discrimination — to bring us closer to the promise of an equitable society we all deserve.”