“move along, nothing to see here”
This is supposedly being done in the name of diversity. It’s ridiculous.
Wenyuan Wu writes at Minding the Campus:
Pride and Prejudice: Don’t You Dare Upend the “Race-Conscious” Status Quo
Last week, both Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC) filed their response briefs with the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), which is now considering two lawsuits against the institutions’ admissions processes by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA). In the responses, the defendants categorically deny claims of racial discrimination in undergraduate admissions, pledge their unrelenting allegiance to “student-body diversity,” and challenge SFFA’s legal standing as the plaintiff.
The Harvard brief was signed by a dozen attorneys from three branches of the conglomerated law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, which bills its clients up to $1,000 an hour. The UNC brief, filed by both the university and the State of North Carolina Department of Justice, was written by three attorneys from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, which has a top hourly billing rate of $1,425.
Although they have hired the top guns to represent themselves against an allegedly “paper organization” lacking standing, neither UNC nor Harvard has submitted any novel claims or arguments in the new round of legal sparring. Instead, both filings, similar to each other in argumentation and conclusions, echo lower-court rulings and defendants’ friends-of-the-court briefs that favor the continued use of race in admissions.
Even the sequences of their arguments are identical: they 1) defend diversity as a core mission of American higher education, 2) assert race is only a plus factor among many, 3) insist that every applicant is treated equally without regard to race, and 4) argue that race-neutral alternatives are insufficient to achieve diversity. Both Harvard and UNC also warn SCOTUS that an unfavorable ruling would destabilize the law, rattle “decades of settled precedent [for using race],” and dishonor the original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as Brown’s legacy.
In other words, diversity, long interpreted as racial diversity and representation, is to be accepted beyond doubt as a critical goal for both higher education and our society as a whole. Legal precedents, which by no means gave anybody a license to discriminate, are not to be revisited so that universities and colleges can be saved from future litigation. So, move along, nothing to see here—if only they were right. Both schools have committed substantive errors through their dogmatic pride in existing practices and prejudice against their challengers.
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