Harvard, Diversity, and the Courts

The federal district court has ruled that Harvard’s admissions practices, while “not perfect,” do not violate federal law. This does not mean that Harvard is not engaged in “discrimination,” only that any such discrimination is “narrowly tailored” to address two compelling governmental interests -- remedying the effects of past discrimination and diversity in higher education. Under the Supreme Court’s strict scrutiny standard, Harvard may consider race to achieve diversity only if there is no workable race-neutral alternative that ensures a sufficiently diverse class. The multitude of cases to come before the high court concerning admission preferences suggests these principles may be easier to articulate than to administer.   Harvard is constrained by both law and economics in the degree to which it discriminates against merit applicants. Harvard has considerable, but not unlimited, discretion in how it administers its...(Read Full Article)
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