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Justice department sides with Asian American students in Harvard bias lawsuit | Education

The Trump administration on Thursday sided with Asian American students suing Harvard University over its consideration of race in its admissions policy.

The lawsuit, filed by Students for Fair Admission on behalf of the students, argues that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants.

The justice department said in a court filing that the school has failed to demonstrate it does not discriminate on the basis of race.

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the school has disputed the claims in previous filings.

The supreme court permits colleges and universities to consider race in admissions decisions, but says it must be done in a narrowly tailored way to promote diversity and should be limited in time. Universities also bear the burden of showing why their consideration of race is appropriate.

In Harvard’s case, justice officials said, the university has not explained how it uses race in admissions and has not adopted meaningful criteria to limit the use of race.

Jeff Sessions said: “No American should be denied admission to school because of their race.”

The attorney general argued the school’s use of a “personal rating”, which includes highly subjective factors such as being a “good person” or “likeability”, may be biased against Asian Americans.

Sessions said the school admits that it scores Asian American applicants lower on personal rating than other students. Sessions also argued that Harvard admissions officers monitor and manipulate the racial makeup of incoming classes.

“The supreme court has called such attempts to ‘racially balance’ the makeup of a student body ’patently unconstitutional’,” he said.

The statement of interest filed by the justice department opposes Harvard’s request to dismiss the lawsuit before trial. The department is separately investigating Harvard’s admissions policies, an inquiry that could also result in a lawsuit.

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