Twenty-six Harvard student and alumni groups, comprised of thousands of Asian American, Black, Latinx, Native American, and white Harvard students and alumni, filed an amicus brief today, urging the First Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a district court decision that upheld Harvard’s holistic, race-conscious admissions policy. The students and alumni are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and local counsel Sugarman Rogers. The brief comes after Students for Fair Admissions appealed a decision by the district court that unequivocally allowed Harvard to consider race as one of many factors in its admissions process to create a vibrant, diverse learning environment as part of its educational mission. The district court’s ruling followed more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent.
“Last year’s ruling was a resounding victory for educational equity, and we are confident that the First Circuit Court of Appeals will likewise reaffirm that it is legal, necessary, and right to consider race as one important aspect of a student’s holistic college application,” said Jin Hee Lee, Senior Deputy Director of Litigation at LDF. “It is an honor to continue representing this multi-racial coalition of student and alumni organizations who know firsthand why it is vitally important for Harvard to continue fostering racial and ethnic diversity on its campus.”
LDF’s brief, which follows last week’s response from Harvard, condemns Students for Fair Admissions’ attempt to upend over forty years of Supreme Court law by seeking to roll back efforts to foster diversity in colleges and universities nationwide. Considering race, as one of many factors, in the admissions process is necessary to assemble a diverse student body, especially due to barriers to opportunity confronted by students of color at every level of the education system. The brief also highlights the essential contributions that students of color and their organizations have made to Harvard, enriching the educational experience of all students. Completely eliminating race from the admissions process would deprive students of the best education Harvard has to offer.
“Now, more than ever, we are in need of citizen-leaders who represent and understand the myriad experiences in our richly diverse nation,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel at LDF. “As one of the leading educational institutions in the world, it is imperative for Harvard to draw upon this diversity to forge its renowned learning environment and prepare the next generation for the many important challenges ahead.”
Read our as-filed brief here.
LDF and local counsel Sugarman Rogers represent the 26 organizations listed below:
COALITION FOR A DIVERSE HARVARD
ASSOCIATION OF BLACK HARVARD WOMEN
FIRST GENERATION HARVARD ALUMNI
FUERZA LATINA OF HARVARD
HARVARD ASIAN AMERICAN ALUMNI ALLIANCE
HARVARD ASIAN AMERICAN BROTHERHOOD
HARVARD BLACK ALUMNI SOCIETY
HARVARD ISLAMIC SOCIETY
HARVARD JAPAN SOCIETY
HARVARD KOREAN ASSOCIATION
HARVARD LATINO ALUMNI ALLIANCE
HARVARD MINORITY ASSOCIATION OF PRE-MEDICAL STUDENTS
HARVARD PHILLIPS BROOKS HOUSE ASSOCIATION
HARVARD PROGRESSIVE JEWISH ALUMNI
HARVARD SOUTH ASIAN ASSOCIATION
HARVARD UNIVERSITY MUSLIM ALUMNI
HARVARD VIETNAMESE ASSOCIATION
HARVARD-RADCLIFFE ASIAN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
HARVARD-RADCLIFFE ASIAN AMERICAN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
HARVARD-RADCLIFFE BLACK STUDENTS ASSOCIATION
HARVARD-RADCLIFFE CHINESE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION
KUUMBA SINGERS OF HARVARD COLLEGE
NATIVE AMERICAN ALUMNI OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY
NATIVE AMERICANS AT HARVARD COLLEGE
TASK FORCE ON ASIAN AND PACIFIC AMERICAN STUDIES AT HARVARD
21 COLORFUL CRIMSON
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. For continued updates on the latest developments in the Harvard case, visit DefendDiversity.Org.