Dozens of conservative lawmakers joined together to file a brief for a Supreme Court case over Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's use of race in admissions decisions, saying, "These universities are flagrantly violating our Civil Rights laws."
Led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA), 82 Republican lawmakers also signed on to the joint amicus brief in the case brought by the conservative nonprofit group Students for Fair Admissions, claiming both institutions engaged in racial discrimination against Asians, according to a press readout sent to the Washington Examiner.
"Race-conscious admissions decisions inflict a heavy toll on Asian-American students. Treating them differently because of their race is a stark departure from equal protection decisions issued early on by this Court, which guarded Chinese immigrants from racial prejudice. And the burdens imposed on petitioner illustrate a wider trend. Asian-Americans are increasingly victimized by discriminatory practices," the lawmakers say in their brief.
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The brief highlights the 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, when the high court held that educational institutions may lean on race as one factor among many when making admissions decisions so long as its use is “narrowly tailored” and furthers the compelling interest of obtaining the benefits of a diverse student body.
Republicans who signed the brief argued they support overturning the precedent established in Grutter, a position also held by the SFFA petition.
“In my office, on the mantle above the fireplace, sits a bust of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a daily reminder of the fight for Justice and that our country’s aspiration should be to judge people not on the color of their skin but the content of their character," Cruz wrote in a statement, arguing that both of the universities "lost sight of that."
The GOP lawmakers claimed Asian Americans are "often victims of discriminatory policies" for their consistency in earning high grades in academic institutions while also being "least likely" to score ranks on personal ratings. Steel, who is also Asian American, introduced legislation last month tailored to ensuring greater transparency in higher education by requiring universities to be clear in their usage of "personality traits" in admissions decisions.
In their brief supporting Harvard, President Joe Biden's administration asked the court to reject SFFA's petition in December before the Supreme Court confirmed it would take up the case in January.
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“The principles that Grutter articulated are correct,” the Biden administration said in its filing. “The Court explained that the educational benefits of diversity may qualify as a compelling interest because a university may conclude that those benefits are ‘essential to its educational mission.’”
Other GOP legislators signing on to the brief include House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).