The Department of Justice filed a court statement Thursday expressing support for a lawsuit against Harvard University that claims the school’s admissions process is biased against Asian Americans. The lawsuit, which was filed by rejected Harvard applicants, alleges that the university purposefully deflates acceptance rates for Asian-American students in favor of students of other races. “Harvard has failed to carry its demanding burden to show that its use of race does not inflict unlawful racial discrimination on Asian Americans,” the DOJ’s statement of interest said. The statement adds that Harvard “uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions.” The DOJ urged the court not to honor Harvard’s request to dismiss the suit.
The lawsuit is seen by many as an attack on affirmative action. Briefs filed in July by Harvard students and alumni claim the suit is an “attempt to manufacture conflict between racial and ethnic groups in order to revive an unrelenting agenda to dismantle efforts to create a racially diverse and inclusive student body through college admissions.” The applicants sued in conjunction with Students for Fair Admissions, which is led by conservative attorney Edward Blum. Blum has previously litigated against the Voting Rights Act and represented a white student who claimed she was denied admission by the University of Texas because of her race.