Representative Ted Lieu (D., Calif.) bristled at a witness for bringing up Harvard’s alleged discrimination against Asian Americans during a House hearing on diversity on the federal courts.
“Stop bringing in irrelevant issues, there are more Asian Americans at these Ivy Leagues than in the federal judiciary — they’re unrepresented. These are different issues happening,” Lieu yelled at civil rights attorney Peter Kirsanow. “Don’t bring in these college issues because this is not what the hearing’s about.”
Kirsanow said he agreed with the assessment that Asian Americans are “underrepresented” in the judiciary, but argued that his prior point was relevant “based on the fact that there’s been discrimination in the pipeline.”
“The perception by the public is we are making determinations on the basis of race — one of the most baleful and anathema consideration we have in the United States because of history. It’s precisely why I say that we must avoid, at all costs, the perception that decisions are being made on the basis of race. And when you look at the correlative, with how decision-making is being made through the admissions process, it appears as if decisions in large part are being based on race.”
In November, First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a group representing several anonymous Asian-American plaintiffs, arguing that the university discriminates against applicants of Asian descent and attempts to lower their representation on campus.
Students for Fair Admissions filed a powerful certiorari petition with the Supreme Court in February, asking for the Court to rule that Harvard’s admissions practices violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Asian Americans. Kirsanow said he filed a brief in support of the case on Wednesday.
Lieu then angrily interjected to tell Kirsanow that “we’re not talking about admissions process. We’re talking about the federal judiciary.”
“The reason that you can’t talk about the federal judiciary and you keep going to the college issue is because you know you have no basis on the issue of the federal judiciary,” he continued. “It just needs to be more diverse.”
Lieu called it “corrosive to America to have an entire third branch of government in which people were selected on the basis of them being white.” He cited a 2019 report from the progressive Center for American Progress finding that 73 percent of federal judges are white males.
Explosive exchange: @tedlieu yells at Peter Kirsanow when he mentions that one of the foremost examples of anti-Asian discrimination right now is at Harvard. This was during a hearing about the need for diversity on the federal courts. pic.twitter.com/q5cDrvSVmL
— Nic Rowan (@NicXTempore) March 25, 2021