According to CNN, the Department of Justice has sided with a group suing Harvard University for discrimination against Asian-American students applying to the university, claiming that the Ivy League institution "engages in unlawful racial balancing" during the admission process. The Department of Justice formally offered up their support for the group's lawsuit during a court hearing on Thursday. The lawsuit is just the most recent attempt to scale back affirmative action programs at colleges and universities across the country.
In a statement of interest filed by the DOJ, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "No American should be denied admission to school because of their race."
"Asian Americans face a significant disadvantage in Harvard's admissions program compared to applicants of other races," the DOJ stated in court papers issued on Thursday. "The record evidence demonstrates that Harvard's race-based admissions process significantly disadvantages Asian-American applicants compared to applicants of other racial groups."
"The evidence, moreover," the statement continues, "shows that Harvard provides no meaningful criteria to cabin its use of race; uses a vague 'personal rating' that harms Asian-American applicants' chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions."
Harvard, however, has continued to deny the allegations that they place a cap or quota on the number of Asian-American students they choose to admit every year, claiming that the university focuses more on academic merits than race when selecting applicants.
According to a statement released by the university, "Harvard College does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admission processes" and will "vigorously defend the right of Harvard and other universities to seek the education benefits that come from a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions."
Initially filed in 2014, the lawsuit alleges that Harvard selects applicants solely on the basis of race, insisting that the university has violated the Supreme Court's ban on racial balancing and quotas. "Harvard has long since abandoned an admissions policy that purported to merely use race contextually to fill the last few seats in the entering freshman class," the lawsuit claims. "Harvard now labels every applicant by race on the claim that it is pursuing the so-called 'critical mass' diversity objective."
The group suing the university, Students for Fair Admissions, has been a longtime opponent of affirmative action. The homepage of the group's website reads "Were You Denied Admission to College? It may be because you're the wrong race," and asks students who have been rejected from particular universities to share their stories.