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Federal Judge Upholds Harvard’s Affirmative Action Admissions Policy

Students on the campus of Harvard University in 2009 (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

A federal judge in Massachusetts on Tuesday upheld Harvard University’s affirmative action admissions process, which considers race as a factor in acceptance decisions.

Judge Allison Burroughs challenged the accusation of the plaintiff, the group Students for Fair Admissions, that the Ivy League institution’s diversity policies intentionally discriminate against Asian-American students, saying the plaintiffs did not provide “a single admissions file that reflected discriminatory animus.”

The group charged that Harvard’s admissions process practices illegal “racial balancing” and imposes a higher standard on Asian-American applicants. Harvard disputes that characterization, saying it performs a “whole person review.”

Without affirmative action, “Harvard would be unable to offer students the diverse environment that it reasonably finds necessary to its mission,” the judge wrote.

“Harvard’s admission program passes constitutional muster,” she stated. “Ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions.”

The decision is expected to be appealed and the high-profile case could conceivably reach the Supreme Court.

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