On Oct. 31, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on two cases — SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. the University of North Carolina (UNC) — which will determine the future of affirmative action. The cases bring together universities, civil rights organizations, and student activists in support of race-conscious admissions policies and equitable education access for students of color.
The President of SFFA (Students For Fair Admissions), Edward Blum, has stated his case is a rescue mission for the colorblind legal principles that hold together Americans of all races and ethnicities. SFFA has accused Havard of alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans during the admissions process.
John Yang, the president and CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, states while he has been informed of the case, his organization has decided not to sue Harvard as the information they have gathered showed there was no discrimination against the Asian students.
“With all the evidence that was presented, we know there were no grounds of discrimination, and the plaintiff is cherry-picking the evidence,” Yang said while explaining the chances the plaintiff has of winning their court case. “In the SFFA lawsuit, no named plaintiffs have testified against affirmative action and most likely will not, as 66 percent of American Asians at Harvard support affirmative action.”
Yang also highlights that the percentage of Asian-Americans admitted to Harvard has risen by 28 percent according to the previous year’s admissions records.
David Hinojosa, who’s part of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, explains the goal of SFFA and why he feels they will fail in court.
“They want to get rid of affirmative action, that’s what they are swinging for (they being SFFA). In the UNC case, SFFA is seeing race used as a plus factor for under-qualified students getting into the university.”
Hinojosa notes that the plaintiff wants to push for race-neutral alternatives in the UNC case, such as income, geography, a top 10% plan, and other things besides race.
In the Harvard case, the plaintiff claims that Harvard was race-balancing and only admitting students of color as a way to make quota and make it seem like the admissions process was fair.
Hinojosa notes that the plaintiff had no witnesses from the student body, faculty, or board of admissions to testify on their behalf in the Harvard case and only had two experts to testify in the UNC case.
Michaele Turnage-Young, of the Legal Defense Fund, states that eliminating affirmative action will be detrimental to the Black community and other people of color. It will only aid and magnify the shortcomings of Black students, not being as prepared to assemble a college application compared to White students.
Young also highlights that even if you remove every Black and Latinx applicant from admissions, White and Asian chances of getting into Harvard only increase by one percent. She is representing 25 Harvard student organizations and will be part of defending affirmative action in court.
“It’s vitally important that the perspective of the thousands of current Harvard students that we represent be available to the court,” she said.