Academics from the U.S. filed briefs this week to the Supreme Court in support of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. The schools are at the center of two high-profile cases that pose a threat to affirmative action admission policies.
More than 1,240 historians and social scientists who study race and education, led by Asian Americans, filed two briefs supporting the universities and their race-conscious admission practices in response to a series of lawsuits by the Anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions SFFA Led by Edward Blum, a white conservative lawyer. SFFA has accused the two schools of discriminating against Asian Americans and valuing Black and Latino students more highly.
Academics argue that dissolution of race-conscious practices in admissions would harm Asian Americans and others and that affirmative action policies will lead to a diversity in the student body that is beneficial to students of all backgrounds.
In the Harvard brief, the academics argued that SFFA's case is grounded in racist stereotypes, citing the petitioner's assertion that Asian Americans are academically significantly stronger than other demographic groups and should therefore be admitted at a higher rate. The brief reads that the assertion is fundamentally based on a racial stereotype about Asian Americans as a so-called model minority. That stereotype promotes the belief that 1 Asian Americans are smarter and value education more than other groups and 2 other racial minorities do not value hard work and education. SFFA did not respond to a request for comment.
The Harvard brief states that the dissolution of race-conscious admissions would harm Asian Americans and ignore the diversity of experiences and degrees of power and privilege within the group.
Research shows that advocating such views creates groundless fears of racial discrimination in college admissions that inhibits identity development among Asian American students.
The UNC brief advocates for race-conscious admissions, stating that racial diversity is beneficial to all across the student body.
The academics join several others in filing briefs in support of the schools.
While Asian Americans have become the face of the anti-affirmative action movement, research shows that the group's stance on the issue is counter to their portrayal in the media.
In a survey conducted by Asian American voters in November, more than 70 percent of the voters favored affirmative action programs designed to help Black people, women, and other minorities get better access to higher education. The inconsistencies have resulted in accusations that conservatives are using Asian Americans as a wedge to further their own interests.
Most opponents of affirmative action are trying to increase the number of Caucasian students, according to John C. Yang, president and executive director of civil rights nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, previously told NBC Asian America.