Scholars File Amicus Brief for Appeal of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College


New York, NY, February 26, 2020 — The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has filed an amicus brief in support of Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) in their appeal of the ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which rejected SFFA’s claim that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants. NAS argues that this ruling should be reversed because the District Court erred in its deference to Harvard. The District Court accepted as a defense of racial discrimination the racial stereotypes that our law condemns, and it rejected historical evidence that “holistic” admissions policies were a product of racial discrimination.

“The Court of Appeals now has an opportunity to take a step forward for racial equality,” said NAS President Peter Wood. “NAS has been fighting racial preferences in higher education for over three decades. We were saddened that the U.S. judicial system would uphold such racialized admissions processes but not surprised.”

Students for Fair Admissions brought a class action suit against the President and Fellows of Harvard College in 2018, alleging that the university used its holistic admissions process to create a de facto quota of Asian students. Statistical models of Harvard’s admissions that exclude the infamous “personal rating” predict that the natural percentage of Asian admissions would be much higher than it was when the case was filed.

The National Association of Scholars has opposed racial preferences in admissions since its founding in 1988. NAS members wrote the text of California Proposition 209, which made race-based admissions policies, such as Harvard’s, illegal in 1996. NAS previously urged legislation, not litigation, to end race-based preferences, and still desires such an outcome.

“NAS continues to support SFFA and the fight for the principle that students should be admitted on the basis of academic achievement, proven ability, ambition, and commitment to learning,” reiterated Wood. “Judge Burroughs and Harvard admitted that Asian students have poor ‘personal qualities,’ a clear indication of racist stereotyping. Even with this admission of race as a qualitative reason for dismissing Asian applicants, the District Court allowed the wool to be pulled over its eyes.”

Wood concluded, “Our amicus brief aims to rebut the findings of Judge Burroughs, reintroduce excluded evidence, and to support SFFA’s mission to end racial discrimination in admissions.”

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at


If you would like more information about this issue, please call Chance Layton at 917-551-6770, or email [email protected]

Photo by Su puloo on Unsplash

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