The Department of Justice today filed an amicus brief in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In its amicus brief, the United States explains that Harvard’s expansive use of race in its admissions process violates federal civil-rights law and Supreme Court precedent.

“Race discrimination hurts people and is never benign,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “Unconstitutionally partitioning Americans into racial and ethnic blocs harms all involved by fostering stereotypes, bitterness, and division among the American people. The Department of Justice will continue to fight against illegal race discrimination.”

As a condition of receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer funding every year, Harvard expressly agrees to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a cornerstone civil-rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. In 2017, the Department opened a Title VI investigation into Harvard’s admissions process after a complaint was filed by more than 60 Asian-American organizations. That investigation remains underway.

In this case, Students for Fair Admissions, an organization of students and parents, alleged that Harvard College intentionally discriminates against Asian-American applicants when making admissions decisions, in violation of Title VI. The district judge denied Harvard’s various attempts to dismiss the lawsuit, and the case proceeded to a three-week trial in the fall of 2018.

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