BOSTON (CN) - Harvard’s admissions process does not discriminate against Asian-American students, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, shutting the door on a long-running suit rooted in backlash over affirmative action.
Students for Fair Admissions initiated the case back in 2014, alleging that Asian American prospective students were less likely to be admitted to Harvard when compared to students of other races, with otherwise identical applications.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs threw out the case this afternoon with a 130-page opinion.
"Ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race-conscious admissions," she wrote. ”Harvard's admission program passes constitutional muster in that it satisfies the dictates of strict scrutiny."
When the case went to trial one year ago for over a week, Harvard’s admissions methods came under heavy scrutiny, revealing that prospective students are given a comprehensive score that weighs numerous factors including academics, economic status and race.
The school argued that this comprehensive balance helped create a more diverse student body, which in turn exposes those students to a wider scope of experiences.
Burroughs credited this testimony. “The students who are admitted to Harvard and choose to attend will live and learn surrounded by all sorts of people, with all sorts of experiences, beliefs and talents,” he wrote. “They will have the opportunity to know and understand one another beyond race, as whole individuals with unique histories and experiences.”
Although Burroughs noted that there was potential for Harvard’s admissions process to fall victim to racial bias, he said it did survive strict scrutiny.
“It serves a compelling, permissible and substantial interest, and it is necessary and narrowly tailored to achieve diversity and the academic benefits that flow from diversity,” Burroughs wrote.
Edward Blum, the president of the plaintiff group, said he planned to appeal the ruling, going as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
“Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard’s discriminatory admissions policies,” Blum said in a statement. “We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants.”
A spokesman from Harvard University has yet to respond to an email seeking comment.
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