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Harvard Discrimination Case And Its Potential To Go To SCOTUS

People walk around the Harvard University''s main campus in Cambridge, MA.
People walk around the Harvard University''s main campus in Cambridge, MA.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

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A federal judge Tuesday cleared Harvard University of discriminating against Asian American applicants in a ruling that was seen as a major victory for supporters of affirmative action in college admissions across the U.S.

In a closely watched lawsuit that had raised fears about the future of affirmative action, a group called Students for Fair Admissions accused the Ivy League college of deliberately - and illegally - holding down the number of Asian Americans accepted in order to preserve a certain racial balance on campus. U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs, however, ruled  that Harvard's admissions process is "not perfect" but passes constitutional muster. She said there is "no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever" and no evidence that any admission decision was "negatively affected by Asian American identity."

Her ruling, which came after a three-week trial a year ago, brings temporary relief to other universities that consider race as a way to ensure campus diversity. But it also sets the stage for a prolonged battle that some experts predict will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow welcomed the ruling, saying that the consideration of race and many other factors "helps us achieve our goal of creating a diverse student body that enriches the education of every student." Students for Fair Admissions said it will appeal.

Today on AirTalk, Larry Mantle and his expert legal guests will argue the judge's legal rationale in making her decision, how that factors into possible appeals, what that means as it's working its way through courts, and how justices might line up if it goes to the Supreme Court.

With files from Associated Press.


Kimberly West-Faulcon, law professor at Loyola Law School, her focus includes antidiscrimination and constitutional law; she tweets @KWestFaulcon

Wen Fa, attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian public interest law firm based in Sacramento; he tweets @wenfa1