UNC, Harvard Sued for Discriminating Against Asians in Admissions

By Julianne Hing Nov 17, 2014

Edward Blum, the one-man shop behind attacks on voting rights and affirmative action, is back with his latest lawsuit. Under a newly formed non-profit called Students for Fair Admissions, Blum’s Project on Fair Representation has filed suit against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Harvard University over their use of race in their admissions policies.

Both universities, the suits allege, discriminate against Asian applicants in favor of lesser-qualified African-American and Latino students. According to the complaint, Harvard violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by intentionally discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, and by engaging in a practice the suit refers to as "racial balancing." Year after year, Harvard’s racial composition between whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians stays roughly the same, "even though the application rates and qualifications for each racial group have undergone significant changes over time," the complaint reads (PDF). The suit argues that this is "the deliberate result of systemwide intentional racial discrimination."

According to the complaint (PDF), UNC fails to comply with standards set forth by the latest affirmative action case to come before the Supreme Court–Fisher v. Texas. Incidentally, Blum’s Project on Fair Representation is the group that located Abigail Fisher, the white plaintiff who sued the University of Texas when she was denied admission. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided against re-hearing Fisher’s case. The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Fisher v. Texas compels UNC to end its current race-conscious admissions process, the lawsuit filed today argues.

This spring, Blum put out a call for plaintiffs who’d been denied admission to UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard and the University of Wisconsin. His websites prominently featured Asian faces, though in an interview with Colorlines, Blum denied that he was targeting Asians or using them as a wedge to divide different groups of color in a thorny race issue.