The Corner

Law & the Courts

The Justice Department Files a Good Brief in the Harvard Racial Preference Case

The Justice Department building stands in Washington, D.C., February 1, 2018. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Kudos to the Department of Justice for the amicus brief it filed Tuesday on behalf of the Asian-American plaintiffs in their lawsuit against Harvard University for its use of racial preferences in student admissions. Bear with me while I give a little more detail on why the brief deserves special praise.

The law requires that, when race is considered in student admissions — as Harvard admits it is here — the school do so only in a way that passes the two prongs of “strict scrutiny”; that is, that the discrimination be “narrowly tailored” to a “compelling interest.” Alas, in deciding the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court recognized the “educational benefits” of a racially diverse student body as such a compelling interest.

The Harvard case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, but will ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court. When that happens, probably next year some time, it is critically important that the Court revisit its 2003 ruling that “diversity” justifies discrimination.  The Justice Department deserves special praise, therefore, for challenging Harvard on both prongs of strict scrutiny, since this helps make it more likely that the Supreme Court will do just that.

For the same reason, by the way, praise is due for the amicus brief that the Pacific Legal Foundation also filed on Tuesday (one that, ahem, was joined by my organization, the Center for Equal Opportunity).

Most Popular

Why Trump’s Losing

President Trump pulled an inside straight to win in 2016, and now he needs another one. The good news for Trump is that his approval rating has stopped falling recently. The bad news is that it has stabilized in the low 40s. Election-watcher Harry Enten points out that no president since Harry Truman has won ... Read More

Why Trump’s Losing

President Trump pulled an inside straight to win in 2016, and now he needs another one. The good news for Trump is that his approval rating has stopped falling recently. The bad news is that it has stabilized in the low 40s. Election-watcher Harry Enten points out that no president since Harry Truman has won ... Read More
Elections

The Man Who Wasn’t There

At first glance, Joe Biden’s strategy of avoiding the spotlight is paying off. He maintains his consistent lead over Donald Trump in national polls. In June, in the aftermath of the Lafayette Park fiasco, his advantage in the RealClearPolitics average expanded to ten points. The critical swing states of ... Read More
Elections

The Man Who Wasn’t There

At first glance, Joe Biden’s strategy of avoiding the spotlight is paying off. He maintains his consistent lead over Donald Trump in national polls. In June, in the aftermath of the Lafayette Park fiasco, his advantage in the RealClearPolitics average expanded to ten points. The critical swing states of ... Read More
Economy & Business

What’s an ‘American’ Car?

I’m not too sure about Dmitri’s ode to American cars, because I am not too sure what is an American car. In what sense should a Jeep Compass manufactured in Mexico be thought of as American while a Mercedes GLE made in Alabama isn’t? The answer cannot be corporate ownership: Both companies have ... Read More
Economy & Business

What’s an ‘American’ Car?

I’m not too sure about Dmitri’s ode to American cars, because I am not too sure what is an American car. In what sense should a Jeep Compass manufactured in Mexico be thought of as American while a Mercedes GLE made in Alabama isn’t? The answer cannot be corporate ownership: Both companies have ... Read More