The discrimination lawsuit against Harvard College that goes to trial in federal court on October 15 may well put a momentous choice before the Supreme Court, and the country, within the next few years. Should the Court allow racial preferences in university admissions to continue forever? Or should it ban them as unconstitutional, even though a rigorously enforced ban could dramatically cut enrollments of African Americans and Latinos at selective schools?

Almost all publicity about the case has focused on the powerful, if disputed, evidence that Harvard discriminates in admissions against Asian Americans—an historically oppressed racial minority—to avoid admitting a greatly disproportionate number from a group whose academic excellence far outpaces all others’.

The plaintiff, a body called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), wants to end Harvard’s alleged discrimination against Asian Americans, but its ultimate objective is far broader. It hopes to persuade the Supreme Court to order an end to the pervasive regime of large racial preferences (euphemistically called “affirmative action”) used by almost all selective schools to admit blacks, Latinos, and other minority groups ahead of Asian Americans and whites who are far stronger academically. The SFFA is headed by Edward Blum—the conservative activist who has organized some of the major legal challenges to affirmative action—and enthusiastically supported by dozens of Asian-American organizations (though also opposed by many others). Critics portray the lawsuit as a cynical ploy by whites like Blum to drive a wedge between other minorities and Asian Americans. But the latter would clearly be admitted in greater numbers, as would whites, if the suit wins. The Department of Justice issued a statement of interest in the case in August—and is itself concurrently investigating both Harvard and Yale on the same charge.

A ban, or at least a mandate to phase out preferences on a strict timetable, would be an overdue vindication of the nondiscrimination principle of the Constitution and our civil rights laws. It would also slow society’s drift toward racial preferences in every walk of life, which are a major driver of our ever more divisive identity politics. Such a ruling would also benefit the many good black and Hispanic students who are now being set up to struggle or fail—and be stigmatized as academic weaklings—by being recruited via preferences into schools for which they have not been well-prepared.

Yet court-ordered colorblind admissions could reduce the number of blacks at Harvard by more than half—from 14 percent to about 6 percent, according to the school’s court filings (these estimates are disputed by the plaintiff as unrealistically high). It could reduce Latinos at Harvard by about a third—from 14 percent to 9 percent. Colorblind admissions would bring even larger reductions in the black and Hispanic enrollments at the country’s less elite but still selective schools, where the racial gaps are often much larger than at Harvard. And while all of those students could still get into less selective or nonselective colleges, this would be a wrenching consequence.

Harvard and other top schools would find ways to mitigate the effects of a loss in the Supreme Court on black and Latino enrollments, such as increasing admissions preferences for disadvantaged students of all races and curtailing “legacy” preferences for mostly well-off, and mostly white, children of alumni and big donors. California banned racial preferences in state schools and programs in 1996, thanks to Proposition 209, and studies have shown that while fewer blacks and Latinos have been admitted to the most selective universities—Berkeley and UCLA—there were also good effects. Many of those who did not get into those campuses ended up having much greater academic success and better graduation rates at the less selective state schools. And any loss of diversity at Berkeley and UCLA was offset by diversity gains at these other schools. (Seven other states have since followed suit.)

Still, a large drop in black and Hispanic representation at top institutions—which would be relentlessly dissected by the media—would be a rude shock to many public-spirited Americans, and especially those blacks and Hispanics who have come to see preferential admissions as a permanent entitlement. Such a drop could aggravate the already dangerous bitterness of race relations and politics in this country. It could depress the morale of the many black students who already feel that the deck is stacked against them by white racism. This is the fundamental dilemma presented by the Harvard case and, ultimately, by the shockingly large—but rarely acknowledged—size and persistence of our nation’s racial gaps in academic performance at all levels.

These gaps shrank from the 1960s through the 1980s, but leveled off more than 20 years ago and show no sign of becoming smaller unless preschool and K-12 education change radically. The changes should include starting school earlier in life, immersing kids in learning for longer hours, training parents to help educate kids at home, paying effective teachers much more money, easing out ineffective teachers, and promoting good, well-funded charter and magnet schools and other alternatives to failing inner-city public schools. More fundamentally, studies suggest racial academic gaps are unlikely to disappear unless and until the structure of black families changes. And there is also much evidence that racial admissions preferences make it harder—not easier—to improve the weak academic performance of black and Latino students at all levels.

A Most Revealing Document

In 2012, Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research (OIR) made a table analyzing 10 years of the college’s admissions data. (For internal use only, it became public thanks to the SFFA lawsuit.) The table shows that if admission had been based solely on academic performance and test scores, only about a dozen—1 in 150, or two-thirds of 1 percent—of Harvard’s roughly 1,660 entering students per year would have been African American; about 40 (2.42 percent) would have been Latino; about 630 (38 percent) would have been white; and about 715 (43 percent) would have been Asian American. Other Harvard documents show that the average SAT scores of Asian and white students admitted from 2010 to 2015 were 218 points and 193 points higher, respectively, than those of admitted black students, on a 1600-point scale. The magnitude of the racial gaps in high school grades is roughly similar, especially if adjusted for school quality.

Almost nobody suggests that admissions should be based on academics alone. (Caltech is an exception. It says it uses no racial or legacy preferences in admissions, and its student body is more than 40 percent Asian.) Harvard and other selective colleges take account of extracurricular activities, personal qualities, and athletic talent. The children of alumni (legacies), big donors, faculty, and staff receive preferential treatment. And there are very large racial preferences for blacks, Latinos, and some smaller minority groups.

The OIR table found that after Harvard took account of nonacademic factors, including race, its typical entering class over those 10 years included not a dozen but about 173 African Americans (10.46 percent of the class); not 40 but about 157 Latinos (9.46 percent); not 630 but about 717 whites (43.21 percent); and not 715 but about 300 Asian-Americans (18.66 percent). (The numbers don’t add up to 100 percent because they don’t include foreign, “unknown,” and some other categories.) If Harvard had not used racial preferences but had considered all the other nonacademic factors, the OIR table found, the student body would have been about 2.36 percent black and 4.07 percent Latino.

Since 1978 and the splintered Bakke decision, a deeply divided Supreme Court has upheld admissions programs that take race into account as a balance-tipping “plus” in the interest of “diversity”—but only in that interest. But the Court’s four more conservative justices, who would have banned any consideration of race in university admissions, joined in Bakke with the pivotal Lewis Powell to reject a second justification advanced by the four liberal justices. This was that, apart from diversity, considering race is lawful if the purpose is “not to demean or insult any racial group, but to remedy disadvantages cast on minorities by past racial prejudice.” Powell and the four more conservative justices also rejected racial “quotas” (a vague term that went undefined). In his solitary but controlling opinion, Powell wrote that the “interest of diversity” (also vague and undefined) is sufficiently “compelling” to justify limited consideration of race in admissions. He specifically praised Harvard’s policy of giving applicants of “disadvantaged” races a “plus” that might “tip the balance in [their] favor” to reward their “contribution to diversity.” Powell deemed this “contribution” to be a species of “educational pluralism” that would promote a “robust exchange of ideas.” In subsequent decisions, the Court would drop any pretense of seeking a robust exchange of ideas.

Twenty-five years later, in the 2003 Grutter case, five justices endorsed, in the words of Sandra Day O’Connor, “Justice Powell’s view that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admissions.” But they also held that such programs had to be “narrowly tailored” and that “all race-conscious admissions programs [must] have a termination point.” O’Connor added that consideration of race in admissions was a temporary “deviation from the norm of equal treatment of all racial and ethnic groups,” adding “[w]e expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.”

Fifteen of those years have now passed with no sign that our most selective schools have any intention of ending—or even reducing—their use of racial preferences. Indeed, Harvard’s longtime admissions director, William Fitzsimmons, said in a deposition for the SFFA case in August that the school has no intention of ending its use of race as a factor in admission, that no evidence exists to support doing so at any point in time, and that he did not “know what form such evidence might take.” Other Harvard officials gave similar statements.

The Supreme Court’s conservatives could see this as verging on defiance of the Grutter precedent, the logic of which weighs more heavily in favor of phasing out preferences with each passing year. Today’s justices are also aware that the persistence of racial academic gaps means that the academic establishment will perpetuate racial admissions preferences indefinitely—unless prevented by law—in order to maintain or increase universities’ percentages of black and Hispanic enrollment. Civil rights groups, Democratic politicians, the news media, and much of corporate America support this agenda.

The Asian Penalty

The general public has long opposed racial admissions preferences by wide margins. Seventy percent of the respondents to a 2016 Gallup poll, including the majority of black respondents, said that college admissions should be based solely on merit. Only 26 percent said racial or ethnic background should also be considered. Those numbers have changed very little since Gallup first asked the questions in 2003. Similarly, in a survey released on September 17 by Boston’s WGBH News, respondents disagreed by 72 to 24 percent with the Supreme Court’s rulings that “colleges can use race as one factor in deciding which applicants to admit.” On the other hand, 83 percent said that “overcoming hardships such as poverty or health problems” should be considered, and 86 percent said it was at least somewhat important that colleges have racial diversity in their student bodies.
A statistical analysis of recent Harvard admissions records by Peter Arcidiacono, an expert witness for SFFA, found that being African American quadrupled (the school’s competing expert said tripled) and being Latino more than doubled an applicant’s chance of getting accepted.

A more general study of racial preferences at highly selective schools found that blacks average an admissions preference worth a staggering 450 (out of 1600) points on the combined math and verbal SAT tests over Asian Americans and a 310-point preference over whites; Latinos average a 270-point preference over Asian Americans; and whites average a 140-point preference over Asian Americans, a phenomenon otherwise known as the “Asian penalty.” While the SAT has long been criticized as culturally biased against blacks, the opposite is true. Blacks do worse in college on average than their SAT scores would predict.

In short, while Bakke and Grutter held that race and ethnicity could be a modest “plus factor” in an applicant’s file, the racial preferences used at Harvard and similar colleges are enormous.

Among the other allegations in the SFFA lawsuit against Harvard (which denies them all) are that it “provides no meaningful criteria to cabin or carefully guide” the weight it gives to race, leaving it to “individual admissions officers’ subjective preferences”; that the school has covertly defied Supreme Court precedents prohibiting quotas and “racial balancing”; and that it has made no serious effort to comply with the Grutter mandate that it engage in “serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives” to racial preferences.

The documents brought to light in the case show that the school admits more than twice as many nondisadvantaged as disadvantaged blacks, with the latter getting no preference over the former. This shows, the SFFA claims, that Harvard’s racial preferences are not primarily designed to help the black students most affected by our legacy of slavery and segregation. There is also ample public evidence that at selective schools generally, large admissions preferences catapult relatively well-off blacks and Latinos over less well-off and academically better qualified Asian Americans and whites. More than 25 percent of black students at selective schools are immigrants or children of immigrants, who on average are more socioeconomically advantaged than other blacks. Indeed, as Yale law professor emeritus Peter H. Schuck noted last year in One Nation Undecided, “most of the potential beneficiaries of [racial and ethnic preferences] are recent immigrants and their descendants,” who are -“competing with the descendants of black slaves whose families have been (and suffered) in America for centuries.”

The Costs of Balancing

The Supreme Court has so far upheld limited, temporary use of racial preferences on the ground that students learn valuable lessons from being exposed to diverse perspectives. The majority in the Grutter decision stressed the need for racial diversity in upholding the University of Michigan Law School’s racial preference plan. The companion Gratz decision struck down another University of Michigan racial preference plan, for undergraduate admissions, because it all too transparently used a quota-like point system to gauge exactly how much admissions officers should discriminate based on race: On a 150-point “selection index,” add 10 points for a mediocre 1010 SAT score; add 2 more for a perfect 1600; add 20 points for the difference between a 4.0 and a 3.0 high school GPA; add 20 points for being black, Hispanic, or Native American (or subtract 20 points for being white); and so forth.

The Court’s more recent decisions—in the Fisher v. University of Texas cases of 2013 and 2016 and the Schuette case in 2014, all three with majority opinions written by the just-retired Anthony Kennedy—have meandered inconsistently while continuing to uphold “narrowly tailored” preferences to advance “the benefits of diversity.” In the 2013 Fisher decision (Fisher I for simplicty of reference), Kennedy’s 7-1 majority opinion sent the case back to the appeals court with instructions to use a demanding standard seen by Court watchers as likely to lead to a major setback for racial preferences in the future. Then, in 2014, Schuette upheld 6-2 a Michigan constitutional amendment banning racial preferences in admissions at the state’s public universities.

The Fisher II decision was a surprise and a major, if still far from conclusive, victory for racial preferences. The same Kennedy, for the first time in his 25 years on the bench, upheld a racial-preference plan. He said courts must give universities “considerable deference,” if not a blank check, in designing admissions programs.

But Kennedy did not quite unsay his holdings for the Court three years earlier in Fisher I. He quoted earlier decisions: “Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people.” And “any official action that treats a person differently on account of his race or ethnic origin is inherently suspect.” And “an applicant’s race or ethnicity [must not be] the defining feature of his or her application.” And “outright racial balancing . . . is patently unconstitutional.” And “strict scrutiny imposes on the university the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice.” Nor did he quite unsay O’Connor’s assertion in Grutter that “narrow tailoring . . . requires that a race-conscious admissions program not unduly harm members of any racial group” or her expectation that racial preferences “will no longer be necessary” after 25 more years—meaning after 2028.

Many scholars see racial preferences for blacks mainly as remedies for the continuing effects of slavery and past discrimination. No Supreme Court majority has ever approved this justification. The Court has, instead, used the diversity rationale to justify preferences not only for blacks, including recent immigrants, but also for Latinos and every other ethnic group—almost all of them immigrants and their descendants—whose members (on average) have trouble competing academically with Asians and whites.

Yet it is questionable whether students of any race benefit from the use of preferences to engineer diversity. This feeds stereotypes of racial inferiority; spurs self-segregation in classrooms, cafeterias, and dorms; and fosters hostility to intellectual diversity on racial and other issues as “microaggressions.”

In One Nation Undecided, Peter Schuck argued cogently that the benefits of preferentially engineered diversity on campuses “are insubstantial”: “[T]he programs’ designation of beneficiary groups is arbitrary and incoherent, even silly,” as are “affirmative action’s rigid pigeonholes.” Preferences “ratify the very stereotypes that the programs are intended to combat,” especially that of “academic inferiority,” and black students grow more and more committed to segregation. The very large white-black gap in SAT scores can create an academic “caste system” in which the preferred students take the easiest courses. He noted, moreover, that on campus “partisan and religious affiliation account for the largest viewpoint cleavages, certainly more than race does.”

The social costs of the racial-preference regime, on the other hand, are very high. As Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity wrote in 2017:

It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it mismatches African Americans and Latinos with institutions, setting them up for failure; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school and encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive.

Richard Sander and I detailed one of Clegg’s 14 points in our 2012 book, Mismatch. Once preferentially admitted to highly selective colleges, a great many able, hardworking black students find themselves struggling to compete with some of the top Asian and white students in the country. Many rank near the bottoms of their classes, at great cost to their career aspirations and intellectual self-confidence, and actually learn less than they would at colleges where they would be as well-prepared as their classmates.

The mismatch problem is most severe at the selective schools that are less competitive than Harvard. This is because of what education specialists call the “cascade effect.” Harvard and the other super-elite schools absorb the best-qualified blacks and Latinos, some of whom are academic stars, while using relatively modest preferences to admit somewhat less strong students who would probably do better at less selective colleges. Those colleges, in turn, use larger racial preferences to bring in weaker black students, who tend to be even less competitive with their Asian-American and white classmates than blacks at the super-elites. And so on down the selectivity curve.

The Supreme Court clearly stated in Grutter that “a race-conscious admissions program [must] not unduly harm members of any racial group,” and the evidence mounts that racial preferences unduly harm members of every racial group.

A Pernicious Racial Stereotype

Under Harvard’s current admissions regime, according to an analysis of the data by SFFA expert witness Peter Arcidiacano, a GPA-test score combination that would give an Asian-American applicant only a 25 percent chance of admission would give an otherwise identical African-American a 95 percent chance, a Latino a 77 percent chance, and a white a 36 -percent chance. Asian Americans, though, are a far larger percentage of Harvard’s admitted students (22.7 percent this year, for example) than of the college-age U.S. population (about 6 percent). This still does not preclude a finding that Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans.
They are so much stronger academically than all other racial groups that the SFFA estimates if “Harvard admitted students based only on their academic index, Asian Americans would comprise over 50 percent of the admitted class.” (The school has increased Asian-American admissions substantially since the lawsuit was filed in 2014, which the plaintiff dismisses as a litigation strategy.) Such claims are always arguable, but Harvard has been forced by its own data to concede that despite Asian Americans’ primacy in academics and near-parity with whites on extracurricular activities, a smaller percentage of Asian-American applicants is admitted than of whites, blacks, or Latinos. Part of the reason is that Asian Americans score lower on “personal” ratings that are both highly subjective and—SFFA and the Department of Justice claim—racially biased.

Harvard says a key reason for its rejection of so many academically outstanding Asian Americans is that few qualify for the large preferences that are given to recruited athletes and alumni children. But the college has conceded that another reason is the relatively low scores its admissions officers assign, year after year after year, to Asian-American applicants for “personal” traits including “human qualities,” being an “attractive person to be with,” having a “positive personality,” and general “likability . . . helpfulness, courage, kindness.” The personal ratings are made by admissions officers who meet face to face with only a handful of applicants annually. They base the scores on a review of the essays, letters of recommendation, and the like in applicants’ files.

SFFA and the Justice Department suggest that these personal ratings reflect either pernicious racial stereotyping or deliberate racial discrimination. Harvard’s court papers deny both and vaguely suggest that the lower average Asian-American personal scores are based on statistical evidence that Asian-American applicants are weaker than whites in “factors that inform the personal rating.” But when asked in his deposition whether “Asian Americans have fewer attractive personal qualifies than white students,” Fitzsimmons, the Harvard admissions director, said: “That wouldn’t be my impression.”

This statement is hard to square with Harvard’s court papers and the report of David Card, the school’s own expert witness. The SFFA lawsuit and the Justice Department’s statement of interest both point to the substantial evidence that Harvard admissions staff—which acknowledges overtly considering applicants’ race at various stages of the admissions process—does so in scoring personal traits as well. The college denies this, but the evidence makes the denial ring hollow. SFFA and Justice stress three secret OIR reports done for Harvard’s leadership in 2012 and 2013 in the wake of the first publicized, heavily documented charges that Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans. These reports, made public this summer through the lawsuit, reach no definitive conclusions on questions including “Is there bias against Asian Americans in college admissions?” But they indicate that Asian-American admissions to Harvard during the 10-year period studied would have more than doubled, to 43.04 percent of all admitted students, if only academics were considered; found that Asian-American ethnicity was negatively correlated with both the personal rating and admission; and suggested that more analysis was necessary to “further address the issue of bias.”

Harvard’s leaders ignored these disturbing reports. They could have sought further analysis of whether the personal rating was racially biased against Asian Americans and endeavored to ensure that it would not be biased in the future. Instead, they “left in place a personal rating that harms Asian American applicants’ chances for admission, weighs heavily in Harvard’s admissions process, and may be infused with a use of race that Harvard has made no effort to justify,” as the Justice Department asserted. All this, DoJ added, “despite [Harvard’s] legal obligation to ensure that its admissions process does not discriminate on the basis of race.”

Harvard dismisses the OIR reports as “preliminary and incomplete”—without bothering to explain why it left them preliminary and incomplete. Even the Harvard Crimson’s editorial board, which is explicitly for racial preferences, noted on September 10, “In failing to further investigate whether it discriminates against Asian Americans in its application process, Harvard ditched educational values and its own motto—‘veritas.’ ”

The school’s defense stresses that there is little or no direct evidence of Harvard officials’ intentionally scheming to hold down Asian-American admissions. But the statistical evidence is powerful. So is the fact that Harvard did nothing to explore or remedy the troubling facts in the 2012 and 2013 OIR reports.

The Conservative Court Weighs In

If the Harvard case does reach the Supreme Court, the stage will be set for a very big decision. The Court could, of course, rule for Harvard across the board, which would entrench racial admissions preferences permanently in higher education in most of the country. That outcome seems improbable if the Court still has five conservative-leaning justices when a decision comes down—as the Court has now for the first time since the 1930s with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. On the other hand, in this era of party-line voting, a Harvard win would be highly probable if the number of conservative justices went down to four.
Another possibility is a relatively narrow ruling that Harvard has unconstitutionally discriminated against Asian-American applicants. The Court could in effect require Harvard to change its admissions policies, especially the “personal” rating, in a way designed to admit more Asian Americans and fewer whites, while assuming the continued validity of Harvard’s very large preferences for blacks, Hispanics, and other “underrepresented” minorities. That, too, seems unlikely as long as there are five conservative justices.

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts wrote in 2007: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent in Fisher II said he would hold that “a State’s use of race in higher education admissions decisions is categorically prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause.” Justice Samuel Alito has found unconstitutional every racial preference plan to come before him, and in his dissent in Fisher II—in passages that could easily be turned against Harvard today—he accused the University of Texas of both discriminating against Asian-American applicants and “turn[ing] affirmative action on its head” by channeling racial preferences to the children of affluent black and Hispanic professionals. Alito has also been highly skeptical of arguments that racial preferences are needed to bring “the educational benefits of diversity.” The fourth conservative, Neil Gorsuch, has no track record on the issue, but few conservatives support racial preferences. And Anthony Kennedy’s replacement, Brett Kavanaugh, said in a newspaper interview 19 years ago that it was “inevitable” that the Court “within the next 10 or 20 years” would rule “that we are all one race in the eyes of the government.”

If the Court wants to nibble around the edges of the racial-preference regime without striking a major blow, it could rule against Harvard on just one or two allegations, such as the claim that “the record contains substantial evidence that Harvard is engaging in unlawful racial balancing in formulating each year’s admitted class.” Or the claim that Harvard has “never engaged” in the “serious, good-faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives” required by the Grutter precedent.

But such a ruling could be easily circumvented and would have very limited impact on universities’ ability to perpetuate racial preferences. At the very least, the Court should hold that “narrow tailoring” requires universities to make public the data that show the degree of their use of racial preferences and the average academic performance in college of the preferred groups. This would enable preferred students from those groups to assess how steep a hill they would have to climb to compete with far better-prepared classmates. Transparency would also be useful to policymakers and citizens. Schools should be pressured to disclose the size of their legacy and other preferences as well.

A conservative majority might be tempted to declare an immediate, categorical ban on all racial admissions preferences. The danger is that, apart from the vast eruption of protest that would ensue, schools would be unprepared to mitigate the effects of the change. Better might be for the justices to give Harvard and other universities a few years to work out how best to come into compliance and implement nondiscriminatory ways to promote diversity.

The Court could, for example, order Harvard—and, by extension, other colleges and graduate schools—to phase out all use of racial admissions preferences by 2028—
50 years after Bakke. That timetable would be in line with the views expressed or implied by all nine justices in the 2003 Grutter decision. And if, as seems likely, the Court does not issue a final decision in the Harvard case until about 2022 or 2023 (if at all), that would give Harvard time to phase out consideration of race and put pressure on other schools to prepare to do the same.

In this regard, and in light of the valid complaint by champions of racial preferences that legacy preferences mainly benefit wealthy whites, a dissenting point made by Clarence Thomas in Grutter might prove prophetic: “Were this court to have the courage to forbid the use of racial discrimination in admissions, legacy preferences (and similar practices) might quickly become less popular.” Why? Because such a ban would increase the pressure to reduce white admissions further than has already been done (Harvard’s student body is less than half white) to make room for more non-whites.

Ending racial preferences would have costs as well as benefits. But one undoubted benefit would be removing the incentive for rampant lying by virtually everyone involved in the racial-preference regime. In late September, Yale president Peter Salovey wrote a letter to the university at large insisting that “Yale does not discriminate in admissions against Asian Americans or any other racial or ethnic group.” Harvard president Lawrence S. Bacow followed suit on October 10 in a letter to the college’s alumni: “Let me be unequivocal: The College’s admissions process does not discriminate against anybody.” The evidence suggests these are bald-faced lies. Putting aside for the moment the powerful evidence of discrimination against Asian Americans, don’t white kids count? Do not those who are rejected based on race to make room for much less qualified applicants experience discrimination? Or has the word discrimination been redefined as something whites can never experience? One might think so from the false denials of any discrimination at all by the many universities that routinely discriminate against white and Asian-American applicants and call it “affirmative action.”

Then there is the deception of the thousands of black and Hispanic students (and their parents) who are told that they are well-qualified to compete academically against classmates who have far stronger academic records. This despite the universities’ knowledge that most are destined to be near the bottoms of their classes and could achieve much more elsewhere. The lies will continue as long as racial preferences do.