Massachusetts Attorney General Maura T. Healey ’92, alongside attorneys general from 14 other states and the District of Columbia, filed a brief in a federal appeals court Thursday in support of Harvard University’s race-conscious admissions process.
The brief comes as part of an ongoing lawsuit pending against the University over allegations by anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions that Harvard College’s admissions process discriminates against Asian American applicants.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals is currently hearing the case, following an October 2019 district court ruling finding that the admissions process does not intentionally discriminate.
Healy and her colleagues wrote that the appeals court should rule in Harvard’s favor, arguing that race-conscious admissions policies are critical to providing students with higher education that includes “diversity of all kinds amongst their peers—including racial diversity.” They wrote that exposure to diversity prepares students to be “future leaders as diverse as the communities they will serve.”
The brief also pointed to affirmative action in higher education as a potential remedy for a lack of diversity in primary and secondary schools as a result of residential segregation. It noted that states that have banned public colleges and universities from considering race in admissions have been less successful at forming diverse student bodies.
A group of major American corporations — including Apple, Microsoft, General Electric, Twitter, Verizon, and Cisco among others — also filed a brief backing Harvard’s admissions process. Lawyers for these companies wrote that businesses also benefit from diversity among college graduates, and that diversity within business allows for better competition, talent recruiting, and performance.
Many of Harvard’s peer institutions — including MIT, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and the other seven members of the Ivy League — also voiced their support for Harvard’s admissions policies.
Several other groups filed amicus briefs in support of Harvard, including a coalition of 26 Harvard student and alumni organizations, professors and scholars from several hundred different institutions and organizations, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Council on Education and other higher education groups, the Anti-Defamation League, and two basketball coaches’ associations.
SFFA has the opportunity to file another brief in the case by June 4. The court will then decide whether to grant oral argument, which would occur roughly several months after that brief is filed. Following a ruling in the case, the losing party might then choose to appeal to the Supreme Court.
—Staff writer Benjamin L. Fu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenFu_2.