Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard (U.S.C.A. 1st Circuit, 2020)

This case involves a legal challenge to Harvard College’s race-conscious admissions policy, pursuant to which race is considered as one factor among many as part of a holistic evaluation of each individual applicant. Consistent with ADL’s prior affirmative action jurisprudence, ADL filed a brief in support of Harvard on appeal, following a District Court ruling that found that Harvard’s policies do not impose quotas, assign people to categories based on their race, or use race as a determinative factor in making admissions decisions. ADL’s brief makes two points — first, that diversity in higher education is a compelling government interest, and second, that Harvard’s current admissions practices (which are intended to promote rather than inhibit diversity) are clearly distinguishable from Harvard’s admissions practices in the 1920s and 1930s, which were motivated by antisemitism, were explicitly designed to decrease Jewish enrollment, and which imposed a quota on Jews.