SFFA Sends Letter Requesting Briefing Schedule in Harvard Admissions Appeal


Anti-affirmative action advocacy group Students for Fair Admissions sent a letter to the First Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday asking for the release of a briefing schedule in the appeal of its ongoing lawsuit against Harvard.

A briefing schedule would outline the dates when the two parties must submit opening, response, and reply briefs summarizing the reasons for or against an appeal.

SFFA’s lawsuit, filed in 2014, alleges that the College unlawfully discriminates against Asian Americans in its admissions process. After a three week trial in 2018 in Massachusetts District Court, Judge Alison D. Burroughs ruled in favor of Harvard on all counts on Oct. 1, 2019.

SFFA filed its notice of appeal on Oct. 4, and the Court docketed the case on Oct. 11.


The letter — authored by SFFA lawyer William S. Consovoy and addressed to Maria R. Hamilton, the clerk of the First Circuit Court of Appeals — cited the “nearly three months” that have passed since the court last moved the case forward.

“Although SFFA understands the many demands on this Court’s time, it respectfully asks for a briefing schedule as expeditiously as possible,” Consovoy wrote.

Edward J. Blum, the founder and president of SFFA, called the length of time that has elapsed without a briefing schedule “very disconcerting.”

“Nearly 13 weeks after the district court’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has failed to establish a calendar so that Students for Fair Admissions rightfully can pursue its appeal,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “This is very disconcerting.”

Susan J. Goldberg, the Circuit Executive for the First Circuit Court of Appeals, confirmed that the court received the letter and that the Clerk’s Office will handle SFFA’s request but declined to comment further.

In the letter, Consovoy also cited the case’s national significance as a reason for requesting an expedited timeline. Some experts have said that, if the Supreme Court hears the case upon further appeal, it could determine the fate of race-conscious admissions at private colleges and universities across the country.

“This case involves issues of national importance regarding the legality of Harvard’s use of race in college admissions,” Consovoy wrote. “Given its importance, the length of time since this case was filed, and the likelihood that whoever loses will seek further review, SFFA would greatly appreciate a briefing schedule so it can begin vindicating its rights on appeal.”

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.