35 Asian American groups and higher education faculty file amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and 34 Asian American groups and higher education faculty today filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief in Massachusetts federal court, opposing a challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy (Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard).

“Asian Americans are an extremely diverse population with more than 50 ethnic groups, 100 languages, and a broad range of immigration, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds,” said Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director. “Instead of treating Asian Americans as a monolithic group, the individualized race-conscious admissions process at Harvard helps to create a more diverse student body that benefits all students, including Asian Americans.”

The plaintiff organization SFFA was created by Edward Blum, who has a long history of opposing affirmative action and restricting voting rights. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his claims in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and reaffirmed that race may be considered as one of several factors in the college admissions process. Blum has continued his crusade against affirmative action by recruiting Asian American students to assert that Harvard discriminated against them.

In their brief, AALDEF and other Amici contend that by improperly grouping the diverse pool of Asian American applicants into a single “Asian” category, SFFA actually perpetuates the “model minority” myth and fails to disclose that its requested remedy–the elimination of race-conscious admissions–would mostly benefit white applicants, not Asian Americans.  The Amici reiterated their opposition to caps, quotas, or any negative action against Asian Americans but asserted that SFFA improperly conflates negative action with a race-conscious admissions policy that recognizes the importance of diversity.

Ken Kimerling, AALDEF legal director and one of the attorneys for Amici, said: “This case is hotly contested by witnesses and experts on both sides. However, SFFA has not submitted facts to support a finding of intentional discrimination against Asian Americans.” He noted that SFFA has not presented any supporting statements by the 40 or more persons involved each year to review and analyze the applications for admission. Kimerling said: “If there were a policy, written or unstated, to discriminate against Asian Americans, one or more of the 40 persons would have spoken up about it in the past decade. Clearly, the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment must be denied.”

Foley Hoag LLP is pro bono co-counsel representing the Amici.

In addition to AALDEF, 34 Asian American groups and higher education faculty are Co-Amici:

18 Million Rising
Asian American Federation
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans United
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Asian Pacific American Network
Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance
Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Chinese Progressive Association
Coalition for Asian American Children & Families
GAPIMNY
Japanese American Citizens League
Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Individuals
(Institutional affiliations provided for identification purposes only)

Vichet Chhuon – U. of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Gabriel J. Chin – University of California, David School of Law
Tarry Hum, MCP, PhD – Queens College CUNY
Anil Kalhan – Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
Nancy Leong – University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Shirley Lung – City University of New York School of Law
Mari J. Matsuda – William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Kevin Nadal, PhD – City University of New York
Philip Tajitsu Nash – University of Maryland at College Park
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials – University of Connecticut
Sona Shah – University of Texas at Austin
John Kuo Wei Tchen – Rutgers University-Newark
Margaret Y.K. Woo – Northeastern University School of Law
K. Wayne Yang – University of California, San Diego

You can download the amicus brief here: http://bit.ly/2C1YIkd.

More than 500 Academic Experts on Asian American Studies, Race, and Access to Education Submit Amicus Brief Supporting Race-Conscious College Admissions

More than 500 scholars (list below) holding doctorates in a wide range of academic fields, including education, Asian American studies, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology and psychology, have submitted an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in support of Harvard University, in a case currently being considered by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

The lawsuit was filed by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an organization created by Edward Blum, who recruited Asian American plaintiffs in the case after he lost the last major challenge against affirmative action before the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas (2016). In the case, SFFA argues that Harvard’s limited consideration of race in its admissions process intentionally discriminates against Asian American applicants. The amicus brief supports the use of race-conscious whole-person review. The brief was filed today.

The brief, submitted by scholars with expertise on Asian American studies, race, and college access, draws upon amici’s original research and the most extensive and up-to-date body of knowledge relevant to the legal issues in the case. The brief addresses: (1) why Asian American applicants, like applicants of all races, benefit from Harvard’s whole-person review process; and (2) why SFFA’s arguments are based on racial myths and stereotypes of Asian Americans.

AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF 531 SOCIAL SCIENTISTS AND SCHOLARS ON COLLEGE ACCESS, ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES, AND RACE IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT

Continue reading “More than 500 Academic Experts on Asian American Studies, Race, and Access to Education Submit Amicus Brief Supporting Race-Conscious College Admissions”

Advancing Justice Los Angeles Files Brief Supporting Race-conscious Holistic Review

Asian Americans are finding themselves in the crosshairs of the debate on affirmative action. Despite what Edward Blum may claim, the current lawsuit against Harvard is not about Asian Americans. He’s using our community as a cover for his crusade to dismantle affirmative action.

If he thinks we’re going to buy-in to this agenda, he’s wrong.

Today, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of a diverse group of students — including several Asian Americans — in support of Harvard’s holistic review policies. What this means is we are reaffirming our commitment to protecting race-conscious holistic review.

After his failed attempt to end affirmative action at the Supreme Court (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), Edward Blum, through Students for Fair Admission, actively began to recruit Asian American students to be plaintiffs for his latest campaign targeting Harvard’s race-conscious holistic admissions.

At the heart of this issue is not whether Asian Americans are discriminated against, but whether Harvard (and other universities and institutions) can continue to value racial diversity in ways in which our country has fallen short. Race-conscious holistic review allows applicants to be valued for who they are as a whole person, beyond just test scores and grades. It allows talented and gifted students from all backgrounds an opportunity to attend college and succeed in life. People of color, including Asian Americans, lose out under a colorblind system.

Earlier this summer, we launched a series of infographics that seek to demystify affirmative action and its importance for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. We highlighted two infographics a week for the last six weeks, each detailing important facts about affirmative action. If you missed it, I encourage you to look through them on our affirmative action webpage.

We recognize Blum’s strategy for what it is: a thinly veiled attempt to use Asian Americans as a cover to destroy racial diversity across college campuses. We refuse to be used as a wedge in this issue.

We’re in this together,

Nicole Ochi
Supervising Attorney, Impact Litigation
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles

P.S. If you’re interested to learn more, we’re hosting a Twitter Town Hall on Wednesday, August 1st starting at 12 p.m. PT. Join the conversation by following @AAAJ_LA and the hashtag #NotYourCover. Hope to see you there.

Asian American Students File to Join Harvard Lawsuit and Defend Affirmative Action

Cross-posting from reappropriate.co. Read the full post here.

Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA) held a press conference moments ago to announce that lawyers with the group will represent two prospective Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) high school students, both seeking to present their support of race-conscious affirmative action admission before the Supreme Court if and when the justices hear arguments next year about an anti-affirmative action lawsuit filed against the school by Edward Blum, the architect behind Abigail Fisher’s earlier failed attempts to dismantle affirmative action before the Court.

The two AAPI high school students represented by AAAJ-LA are current applicants to Harvard University, and both believe that race-conscious affirmative action is beneficial; AAAJ-LA filed paperwork yesterday to help the students join an existing group of diverse students who will have “amicus plus” status to present their support for affirmative action in a pending anti-affirmative action case, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.

In the Students for Fair Admissions case, lobbyist Edward Blum specifically recruited disgruntled Asian American students to serve as the next Abigail Fisher, in hopes of weaponizing a stereotyped, Model Minority Myth narrative of Asian Americans against other students of colour. Blum’s lawsuit alleging bias at Harvard was ultimately consolidated around the case of a still-unnamed Chinese American woman.

“Asian Americans are being exploited, and not to the Asian American community’s benefit,” said Jay Chen, a Harvard Alumnus & Mt. San Antonio College Trustee.

Read the full post here.

Advisory: Asian Americans File to Join Harvard Lawsuit

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) will file a motion on behalf of two Asian American and Pacific Islander Harvard applicants, to participate in the lawsuit challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University.

The motion seeks permission for Advancing Justice-LA and the students to join a diverse group of students who support Affirmative action and will have special “amicus plus” status before the court.

Tuesday, December 13 at 10:30 a.m.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles
First Floor Community Room
1145 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, 90017
(Located on the corner of Lucas Ave. and Wilshire Blvd.)
RSVP to Jeff DeGuia at jdeguia@advancingjustice-la. org

Scheduled speakers at the press conference:
Jason Fong, Harvard Applicant and Prospective Student Amici
David Fong, Parent of Prospective Student Amici
Nicole Ochi, Supervising Attorney, Advancing Justice – LA
Jay Chen, Harvard Alumnus & Mt. San Antonio College Trustee (*invited)

Originally filed in 2014, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, alleges that Harvard’s admissions policy intentionally discriminates against Asian American applicants and violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars federally funded entities from discriminating based on race or ethnicity. Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. filed the lawsuit on behalf of an unidentified Chinese American student whose Harvard application was rejected. However, many Chinese and other Asian Americans support race conscious admissions, and the plaintiffs and Advancing Justice-LA are seeking involvement in this case to represent those views.

全國亞太裔組織稱讚最高法院在平權法案一案中的決定

亞美公義促進中心(簡稱Advancing Justice)、亞裔美國人法律保護和教育基金會(簡稱AALDEF)及全國亞太裔律師協會(簡稱NAPABA)共同稱讚最高法院今日在“費雪訴德克薩斯大學”(Fisher v. University of Texas)一案中所發表的意見。法院以四票對三票讚成將種族因素納入大學錄取過程對申請者的全面考慮之中。

“今天,最高法院認可了考慮種族因素的錄取政策對於確保我國高等教育學府多樣性的重要作用。”NAPABA會長Jin Y. Hwang表示,“作為有色人種律師,我們看到了這些政策對於法律工作者的有益影響,我們也意識到高等教育的多樣性對於確保我們能夠擁有更多有才華的律師與法官服務各個社區的重要性。”

艾比蓋.費雪 (Abigail Fisher),此次平權法案一案的主角,一位被德克薩斯大學拒絕的白人學生,聲稱自己因種族問題受到歧視。Advancing Justice、AALDEF及NAPABA共提交了三份非當事人意見陳述,支持大學在審閱入學申請時參考種族等因素的全面評審方式。這些陳述代表了160多個亞太美(AAPI)組織對於高等教育領域平權法案的支持意見。 Continue reading “全國亞太裔組織稱讚最高法院在平權法案一案中的決定”

National AAPI Organizatons Applaud Supreme Court Decision in Affirmative Action Case

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion released today in Fisher v. University of Texas.

The Court ruled in favor of the consideration of race as part of a holistic review of an applicant in university admissions processes.

“Today the Supreme Court affirmed the important role race-conscious admissions policies have in ensuring diversity in our nation’s colleges and universities,” said NAPABA president Jin Y. Hwang. “As lawyers of color, we see the beneficial impacts of these policies every day in the legal workforce, and we recognize that diversity in higher education is critical to ensuring we have a pipeline of talented lawyers and judges able to serve their communities.”

The case centers on the claim by Abigail Fisher, a white student denied admission to the University of Texas, that she was discriminated against by virtue of her race. Advancing Justice, AALDEF and NAPABA filed three separate amicus briefs in support of the University’s use of race as a factor among many factors taken into consideration as part of a holistic review of an application for admission. Together, the briefs represented more than 160 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations in support of affirmative action in higher education.

“We are gratified the Supreme Court has recognized the ongoing relevance of race as one of several factors in the college admissions process and the importance of a highly-qualified and diverse student body,” commented Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF. “We are glad that Justice Kennedy recognized that the consideration of race may be beneficial to any UT-Austin applicant, including Asian American applicants and, citing AALDEF’s amicus brief, noted that Fisher’s assertion that the university discriminates against Asian Americans is “entirely unsupported by evidence in the record or empirical data.” Ms. Fung continued, “UT’s individualized review of applicants will continue to benefit Asian Americans and avoid harmful stereotypes based on the ‘model minority’ myth.”

Contrary to popular and damaging beliefs that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are universally successful in academics and enjoy easy access to universities, many AAPIs, including Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, face serious barriers to higher education. Race-conscious admissions programs open the doors of higher education and continue to benefit many AAPI students today. No evidence in the record from Fisher supports the erroneous claim that AAPIs are harmed by the university’s use of holistic admissions. In fact, the opposite is true.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledges the continued need for affirmative action policies that make it possible for students of all backgrounds, including many historically disadvantaged Asian American and Pacific Islanders, to access higher education and create a stronger country through their contributions to a diverse society,” said Mee Moua, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice-AAJC.

Today’s ruling is a victory for all Americans. Affirmative action policies have been used as an effective tool to promote equality, ensure qualified students from all backgrounds get a fair chance at higher education, and acknowledge that race is relevant context in considering an individual’s application. With today’s decision, the most vulnerable AAPI students, along with other students of color, will continue to have equal opportunity to enter the institutions that shape tomorrow’s leaders, and we continue to affirm that race, as distinct from class, matters.

“In a world where people of color are killed at alarmingly disproportionate rates, students of color are taking much needed action to improve the racial climate on school campuses, and public discourse about race has rightfully taken center stage on a national level, we need race conscious policies now more than ever,” says Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice-LA.


Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice-AAJC (Washington, D.C.), Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice-Chicago, and Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 75 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA engages in legislative and policy advocacy, promotes Asian Pacific American political leadership and political appointments, and builds coalitions within the legal profession and the community at large. NAPABA also serves as a resource for government agencies, members of Congress, and public service organizations about Asian Pacific Americans in the legal profession, civil rights, and diversity in the courts.