University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard ED-MA-0002
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-14176-DJC ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On November 17, 2014, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts under The Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000d against Harvard College. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and ... read more >
On November 17, 2014, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts under The Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000d against Harvard College. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit the consideration of race in college admissions, claiming that Harvard's current admissions policy discriminated against Asian American applicants.

Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that Harvard's current admissions policy holds Asian American students to a higher standard based on their race, that Harvard is engaged in a prohibited form of racial balancing, that Harvard is not limiting its consideration of an applicant's race to "merely a plus factor," and that a racially neutral alternative is available to achieve the same goals of diversity.

As evidence of this, Plaintiff points to admissions data that shows a disparity between acceptance for Asian American students at Harvard and at other schools, for example, the University of California, who do not employ racial considerations in their admissions process. Additionally, Plaintiff points to the steady rate of acceptance of Asian American students despite the change in application rates and qualifications for those applicants. According to Plaintiff, this is evidence of a policy indistinguishable from racially based quotas for admissions. Plaintiff also points to a long history of admissions discrimination at Harvard as evidence suggesting the current policy may have similar aims.

As of February 3rd, 2015, the suit is ongoing.

Patrick Branson - 02/03/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Harvard College
Plaintiff Description Students for Fair Admissions, whose membership includes applicants who have been denied admission, prospective college applicants, parents of applicants and prospective applicants, and other interested parties.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:14-cv-14176-DJC (D. Mass.) 01/09/2015
ED-MA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 11/17/2014
ED-MA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Casper, Denise Jefferson (D. Mass.)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Caldwell, Benjamin C. (Rhode Island)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Connolly, John Michael (Virginia)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Consovoy, William S. (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0002-0001 | ED-MA-0002-9000
McCarthy, Thomas R. (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Sanford, Paul M (Rhode Island)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adegbile, Debo Patrick (New York)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Ellsworth, Felicia H. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Waxman, Seth (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Wolfson, Paul R. Q. (Illinois)
ED-MA-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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