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The DoJ has weighed in on admissions discrimination lawsuit against Harvard. How would that impact the trial?

Harvard University students attend commencement ceremonies June 4, 2009 in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Harvard University students attend commencement ceremonies June 4, 2009 in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

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The Department of Justice on Thursday sided with Asian-American students suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies.

The Department said in a court filing that the school has failed to demonstrate that it does not discriminate on the basis of race.

The lawsuit was filed back in 2014 when a group called Students for Fair Admissions alleged that the ivy league is “employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies and procedures in administering the undergraduate admissions program.”

The Department argued that the university hasn’t explained how it uses race in admissions and has not adopted meaningful criteria to limit the use of race.

Attorney General Jeff Session also said in statement that the school’s use of a “personal rating,” which includes highly subjective factors such as being a “good person” or “likeability,” may be biased against Asian-Americans. The Attorney General called such attempts to ‘racially balance’ the makeup of a student body ‘patently unconstitutional.”

The Justice Department’s court filing opposes Harvard’s request to dismiss the lawsuit before trial. The department is separately investigating Harvard’s admissions policies, a probe that could also result in a lawsuit.

With files from the Associated Press


Melissa Korn, reporter at the Wall Street Journal who covers high education; she’s been following the lawsuit; she tweets @melissakorn

Hans A. von Spakovsky, former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice in the George W Bush White House; senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation; he tweets @HvonSpakovsky

Brenda Shum, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the nonprofit, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the group filed an amicus curiae brief in this case to support the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit challenging Harvard’s race-conscious holistic admissions policy