Harvard Faces Federal Investigation Over Racial Discrimination In Admissions


As we discussed earlier, Harvard has been hit with a complaint in a federal civil lawsuit from 2014 that alleges that it limits the number of Asian students despite their having substantially higher scores than other admitted in the name of race diversity.  The lawsuit by Students for Fair Admissions seeks an injunction on the use of race in admissions.  What is striking is how universities have resisted efforts to review the data on the score differentials created by admissions using race criteria.  Rather than defend their decisions with full transparency, schools have fought hard to withhold the data for decades.  Why?  If race is just one of many criteria, the differential should not be pronounced. If it is pronounced, there should be a good-faith debate on how to balance the worthy goals of diversity with the importance of merit-based admissions.

The lawsuit, brought by a nonprofit called Students for Fair Admissions, said the practices violate federal civil-rights law and asks a federal judge to prohibit Harvard from using race as a factor in future undergraduate admissions decisions. The suit is pending.

The Justice Department was compelled to send a letter to Harvard on Nov. 17th that the school was being investigated under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin for organizations that receive federal funding. The letter notes that Harvard failed to comply with a Nov. 2 deadline to provide documents related to the university’s admissions policies and practices.

We have previously discussed how schools have rejected students with substantially higher scores for college admissions to foster diversity. Some academics, myself included, have raised concerns about the significant differences in academic scores — a difference that is particularly great with regard to Asian Americans. For that reason, I share the concern that this constitutes a form of discrimination based on race. While there remains a permissible range in which schools can select students to achieve a diverse and pluralistic student body, the differential of admissions scores can be alarming in some cases and suggest that students are being rejected simply because of their race.

I have previously discussed how schools have largely circumvented prior rulings against affirmative action programs. While many defend race-conscious admissions in terms of the need for affirmative action to correct historic discrimination, the Supreme Court barred such affirmative action in 1978 in Bakke. Justice Lewis Powell allowed for only a limited use of race for the purpose of achieving “diversity” in classes. Notably, in Bakke, the Medical School at the University of California at Davis had a more modest program over all by setting aside 16 of the 100 seats for “Blacks,” “Chicanos,” “Asians,” and “American Indians.” Those slots were justified as a matter of diversity, but found unconstitutional by the Court. However, the Court was deeply fractured. Five justices Powell and the plurality found that Bakke had to be admitted and that the weight given race was unconstitutional.

The exception however soon swallowed the rule as schools fought to maintain levels of minority students as a diversity rather than an affirmative action program. Many academics privately admit that the real purpose of these programs remains the original affirmative action rationale to ensure greater numbers of minorities in higher education.

The fact that the case continues to be referred to as the “affirmative action case” shows how little has changed since Bakke when the Court supposedly closed the door on affirmative action in admissions. By allowing race to still be used for diversity, educators sought to achieve the same numerical goals as a matter of diversity and achieving a racial “critical mass.”


Harvard’s non-compliance with the demand from the civil rights department is troubling and may force legal action by the government.  What is equally bizarre is that the letter from John M. Gore, the acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, notes that he materials requested by the Justice Department were already provided by Harvard to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  He states that “Harvard has pursued a strategy of delay and has not yet produced even a single document.”



48 thoughts on “Harvard Faces Federal Investigation Over Racial Discrimination In Admissions”

  1. The infinite, natural and God-given rights and freedoms of Americans, provided by the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights (emphasis on the 9th), 1789, and existing before government was established, cannot be voted, legislated or “interpreted” out. They can only be nullified, voided and denied to Americans through amendment. The singular American failure for 228 years has not been the zeal of the executive branch or the dormant, moribund leadership of the legislative, but the insurrection and treason of the judicial branch to assure that actions comport with the manifest tenor of the literal words of the Constitution.

    1. A legacy is someone whose parent is an alumnus or alumnae. Because of that, the applicant gets a few extra points on their admissions application. But the impact of “legacy admissions” largely exaggerated. These applicants are not likely to have been marginal candidates, who were rescued by a few extra legacy points. If one or both of your parents went to Harvard, you were likely groomed since birth to go there, and your parent(s) are familiar with what it takes to get in. That is the real reason for the high number of legacy students at Harvard and other elite colleges.

      1. TIN

        Your comment illustrates the merit of mentoring children/students properly resulting in a lifetime of benefits. Our basic primary education system taken as a whole only adequately and minimally prepare students on many levels for future success. Without enriching mentoring, students and children are left to their own devices to succeed. Though a particularly gifted student will eventually arrive at making good decisions and summon self-discipline on their own accord, there is a strong opportunity cost in terms of time and expense that pushes them just enough outside of what limited time they have for college and they are reduced accordingly.

        Mentoring instills efficiency into their growth and education, allowing for the student to avoid costly mistakes and learn how to prepare themselves for opportunities. Moreover, as those familiar with the child mind, theirs is a sponge of great absorbency of knowledge. The sooner they are exercised, the greater will be their strength.

  2. Harvard should be fostering profits not American “diworsity,” visitor protocols, immigration policies or newly minted liberal voters. That Harvard is awash in foreign wealth does not bear on the makeup of the U.S. population or visitors. The Constitution established a nation, a meritocracy and the freedom to discriminate. Harvard is free to matriculate whomever it deems appropriate. Students must negotiate visitor passport and visa laws as individuals. Harvard does not set immigration/visitor policy and voting rights.

    The American People have the freedom and power to discriminate, to define visitors and to define the population. In fact, the American Founders made their intent for citizenship and immigration clear. Immediately subsequent to adoption of the Constitution, three times the Founders passed the Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795 and 1802 requiring that citizens be “…free white person(s)…” They clarified in the Preamble that America was provided “…to ourselves and our posterity,…” Those acts were then and still are today wholly constitutional. The Founders intended homogeneity and a “…harmony of the ingredients…”

    “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

    – Alexander Hamilton

    “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

    – Thomas Jefferson

  3. Harvard has long had a strong bias against Jews and Asians. And Harvard has also had a strong bias for Leftists and Blacks. I’m sure that they’ve also expanded their bias to strongly favor Muslims as well. This is old, old news.

  4. Harvard admits about 2,000 applicants of the 38,000 who apply. Of that number, about 1600 matriculate. About 1/3 of those who matriculate are legacy students. The incoming class is about 22% Asian, 15% African-Americans and 12% Latino and 2.5% Pacific Islanders. We don’t know the racial breakdown for legacy students so it’s hard to make assumptions. We do know however about 51% of the class are non-Caucasians which over-represents minorities in the general population. I have no problem with a true meritocracy based on transparent criteria. If that means more Asians or African-Americans or any other group, so be it.

  5. Freedom of thought, speech, belief, religion, assembly, press, private property, free enterprise, employment, matriculation and every other conceivable natural and/or God-given freedom, per the 9th amendment, are provided to Americans by the Constitution.

    Discrimination is the first step of freedom.

    No law prohibiting any form of discrimination, including those of attraction, demeanor, beauty, intelligence, gender and race, is constitutional.

    The Constitution is American fundamental law.

    Government exists only to facilitate freedom through the provision of security and infrastructure.

    Central planning, redistribution of wealth and social engineering are unconstitutional communism.

    People must adapt to the value of their own characteristics.

    People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom.

    Freedom does not adapt to people…dictatorship does.

    1. Except that the “Civil War Amendments,” the 13th, 14th and 15th, largely usurped the original intent and meaning of the Constitution. They authorized what would later be called affirmative action, and shifted power from the states to a centralized federal government. The framers of the Constitution envisioned a voluntary association of largely independent state governments, with a small federal government of strictly limited powers. The Civil War reversed that structure, by forcing states to stay in the union at gunpoint, and transferring power to a federal government which would thereafter rule over subservient states. Thanks, Mr. Lincoln.

      1. The “Reconstruction Amendments” are entirely unconstitutional being done without a quorum, through coercion under the duress of post-war, military occupation by a government which had overthrown the Constitution and perpetrated, by force, a tyrannical, despotic dictatorship. The Civil War was an unconstitutional war of Northern aggression in which Lincoln ordered military attacks in a sovereign foreign country. Lincoln had no authority to issue any “proclamation” including the Emancipation Proclamation. It was eminently unconstitutional for Lincoln to suspend Habeas Corpus, etc., etc.

        “Crazy Abe’s” Civil War should have never happened. Lincoln should have been impeached and convicted for egregious treason and damage to the Constitution. And the improperly ratified and unconstitutional “Reconstruction Amendments” should have never happened.

        See if you can honestly answer the question whether an objective and vigorous Supreme Court should have struck down everything “Crazy Abe” Lincoln did. Where were the Congress and the judicial branch – the Supreme Court? Where was the duly seated American government?

        P.S. Lincoln did promote compassionate repatriation for the benefit of freed slaves so that they might obtain a sense of nationhood and self-esteem. Did they do that after the Civil War amongst their “fellow” “Americans?

  6. It would be interesting to know the amount of functioning psychopaths that have been admitted into Harvard. Professor Dan Aridy for his film ‘(Dis)Honesty: The truth about lies’ has a segment on Marilee Jones. She was the Dean of Admissions for Massachusetts Institute of Technology for twenty-eight years. In her application, she misrepresented her Bachelors of Scinece as being from Rensselar Polytechnic Institute(75) instead of College of Saint Rose (73), an all girls Catholic school.
    All these ‘Asian’ students (parents!) seeking the Justice Department’s help might be a cultural symptom of ‘Children being encouraged to be someone other than they truely are’.
    University of Oxford psychologist Kevin Dutton postulates that some jobs (college majors) are especially fertile grounds for functioning psychopaths. Dutton Argues that psychopathic traits such as arrogance, ruthlessness, deceitfulness, and charisma. Based on Dutton’s reserch, the second most psychopathic professon is that of lawyer (The first is CEO).

  7. As an American Black man I take issue with “race based admissions”. In General it is insulting and demeaning. It suggest that of the millions of Black an Hispanic high school graduates nationwide that so few are academically prepared for college that without”special” programs few to none would be in your school. If several candidates meet your academic requirements then Ok, if you wish, seek “diversity”. Do not lower your standards or give scholarships based on skin color or ability to play ball.

    1. “Affirmative Action Privilege” is eminently unconstitutional, I’m sure you agree, as is nationalization of the private, free enterprise charity industry including welfare, generational welfare, social services, food stamps, quotas, utility subsidies, forced busing, Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc., etc.

    2. As an “American Black man,” an oxymoronic contradiction in terms, who has seen the light regarding freedom and the Constitution, you must have also seen the light on “Crazy Abe” Lincoln and agree that his “Reign of Terror” was unconstitutional in all facets. The attack of Northern aggression against the sovereign CSA, the Emancipation Proclamation, the suspension of Habeas Corpus and the subsequent “Reconstruction Amendments,” all were, and are to this day, wholly unconstitutional. “Crazy Abe” had no Congressional authority to conduct war against a sovereign foreign nation. There was no constitutional basis to issue a proclamation; no war, no rebellion, no insurrection – only constitutional secession by the CSA. Suspending Habeas Corpus requires an amendment which Abe hadn’t proposed or ratified. And the “Reconstruction Amendments” were imposed without a quorum, by coercion at the point of a gun and under the duress of post-war, military occupation. Perhaps, the facet of most concern to you is the abiding fact that freed slaves and their descendants were and still are illegal aliens. The day the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, the status of slaves changed from “property” to “illegal alien” as the Naturalization Act of 1802 was in full force and effect and it required citizens to be “…free white person(s)…” The slaves were no longer property and, not being white, could not become citizens, which made them illegal aliens requiring deportation.

      As you have now seen the light of freedom and the Constitution, you must have also seen the light regarding Lincoln’s “Reign of Terror?”

        1. Haha…classic George. But then again, what family doesn’t have the crazy uncle who LITERALLY ADVOCATES FOR SLAVERY. God help us.

          1. “Crazy Abe” Lincoln, before his “Reign of Terror, implied “compassionate repatriation.” See if you agree:

            “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” After acknowledging that this plan’s “sudden execution is impossible,” he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

          2. Ask yourself why and how Americans have been deprived of the freedoms, rights and form of government established by their forefathers. Why don’t they enjoy the freedom, self-reliance, free enterprise and a severely limited government which existed solely to facilitate the aforementioned freedom by providing only security and infrastructure, distinctly not the central planning, redistribution of wealth and social engineering of the Communist Manifesto.

            It all started with “Crazy Abe” Lincoln, 13 years after Karl Marx published the Communist Manifesto in London, promoting, as his opening salvo, the destruction of classes in society, especially the slave class.

  8. Only Prince Jared the Kushner and Prince George the Bush should get preferential admission into da Harvard. Yep, they did.

    1. Right. What about discrimination based on how much your family donated to the University or discrimination based on name recognition? Is it good to have a mix of exceptionally bright students coupled with family name recognition students? Maybe exceptionally bright students are advantaged by networking with the aristocracy.

      1. Wait. The Communist Manifesto does not have domiion in the United States of America. You don’t have the premise correct. You don’t grasp the Constitution. Discrimination is the first step of freedom. If Americans are under the dictatorship of government and cannot discriminate, Americans cannot be free. Governrment has no authority to dictate against discrimnation or any other freedom or right.

    2. Alan Keyes graduated from Harvard, and was a presidental candidate before Barrak Obama (Obama first went to Occidental, Keyes: Cornell). We see the mess Zimbabwe is in this week with its 93 old dictator. It was Alan Keyes, who was Ambassador. He was against economic sanctions against South Africa. A big issue the left is trying to do currently to Israel. Alan Keyes’ father and brother where soldiers in Vietnam. Had Keyes won the 2000 Presidental Election. Perhaps he would of layed into Robert Mugabe, before he added the last 17 years to Zimbabwe.

    3. JFK, RFK and EMK attended Harvard. As their matriculation was purchased, so was the presidency for JFK through mob election corruption in Chicago and elsewhere. EMK was expelled for cheating – how else would any of them graduate…oh yeah, Joseph Kennedy’s rum-running, smuggler’s dollars which were increased by illegal stock market manipulation. What’s the point of buying your acceptance if you’re not going to graduate, right? Ultimately, the unsavory Joseph was “rewarded” with an appointment as Ambassador of the United States to the Court of St James’s.

      Harvard to be sure.

  9. Another good argument against forced diversity that flows directly against both demographics and merit. I say let’s just have a meritocracy with strict immigration laws and see how it all works out.

  10. The mostly-white Harvard establishment faces a test of whether it truly believe in a post-racial meritocracy.
    The gradual shift of U.S. immigration from predominantly Latino to Asian poses a demographic challenge that white elites need to think about very carefully. Globally, Asians outnumber Euro-Americans about 10:1. The choice is whether white elites will fully embrace a post-racial meritocracy, or cling to past structural techniques that elevate Euro-Americans over Asian-Americans. There is no certainty about the future, but one fact that must be understood is that, in an Asia-centric mindset, white Americans are perhaps losing their edge intellectually, losing family structure, and losing self-disciplne and deferred gratification. Unless this trend is reversed, 40 years from now the re-tossing of the American demographic salad bowl will bubble up a large cadre of Asian elites, outnumbering white elites. So, whites who take the future seriously need to ponder a 2nd-tier position in the social pecking order for the first time since Plymouth Rock. The alternative to such a pecking order based on genetics is a post-racial meritocracy, where interracial marriage among the educated slowly blends and erases genetic distinctions in the leadership class. These are the two choices of the 2060 America that the elites who run Harvard need to contemplate. Discrimination against more qualified Asian-American students over less-qualified white students will fuel tribalism and resentments — it signals that white elites are too tribalistic to manage a post-racial meritocracy. Looking at global demographic reality, white Americans create the best future for their grandkids by aggressively fighting to institutionalize a post-racial meritocracy…..in business, the military, government, entertainment, medicine, industry, immigration, and…..starting immediately, higher education.

    1. Oops, should go here:

      pbinca: Another good argument against forced diversity that flows directly against both demographics and merit. I say let’s just have a meritocracy with strict immigration laws and see how it all works out.

    2. pbinca: Your future is already here. Stats show that Asians, on average, have higher incomes and higher educational attainments than whites in the U.S. Although whites are considered the norm that everyone else is measured against, they are certainly not the most successful of U.S. demographic groups. That would be Jews and Asians. Most whites in the U.S. are the descendants of peasants. Their success has been gradual. On average, their college majors are not as demanding as those of Asians. Asians generally major in science or engineering. Whites predominate in the liberal arts. So a true meritocracy would see elite universities as overwhelmingly Asian, with a handful of especially hardworking whites and no blacks or Hispanics. BTW, I attended U.C. Berkeley in the early 1980s. Even back then, it was jokingly referred to as “U.C. Hong Kong.”

  11. It was my understanding that a quality education at a prestigious university would have strict admission requirements due to the rigor of its program. This is what differentiates a pop up basket weaving university from a serious institution of higher learning. A degree from the latter means a serious accomplishment.

    Selecting, or refusing admission based solely on race rather than merit is racial discrimination, and against the law. This is true whether the victim is Caucasian, Asian, or Pacific Islander. A double standard does not logically apply.

    How does any university propose “to correct historic discrimination”? Women were discriminated against for thousands of years. Shall we then discriminate against men for thousands of years to “make it equal”, holding the distant descendants responsible for their ancestors? And what about the minority men who discriminated against their own minority women? What about the African tribes who sold their rivals into slavery? What about the African nations who still practice slavery? How do we make it equal, when some African-American students’ families immigrated here within the last 100 years, and never were enslaved? Or if any of their ancestors were enslaved, it was in one of the African nations by other Africans? Where do the Irish fit in? They were enslaved, and discriminated against, and conquered. Or how about the Highlanders? After all, they were subjugated until Culloden, after which defeat they were positively trampled, starved, raped with impunity, disarmed, dis-plaided…

    There is no evening the score. Humankind acted in a similar fashion globally for eons, including all indigenous peoples. That includes taking slaves and ruling by the club, in which case the weaker sex fared worse. That’ supposed to be all done now. Someone please explain to hard line Democrats that they can finally stop discriminating, and attacking women and minorities who do not toe the party line. Put away the Fascist underpinnings to the party and please come join civilized society.

    1. Perhaps, in the interest of evening the score, admissions offices should take a look at this map, where the highest risk for slavery is to live in the West African nation of Mauritania, where 1 out of every 25 people is enslaved.


      I particularly enjoyed the casual excuse added in when Sub-Saharan Africa is a “swath of red” on the map of modern day slavery. “The legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and European colonialism are still playing out in the region.” Slavery has existed in Africa for thousands of years before white Europeans returned.

  12. Harvard is red-handed guilty of discriminating against anyone they don’t conclude is “oppressed” in their world view. Justice Powell (Richmond native) in his patchwork Bakke decision blew it when he found diverse classrooms to be a compelling state interest justifying reverse discrimination and then decided to throw out racial quotas in faint homage to the 14th Amendment. That, of course, was a dog-whistle to change the name but keep the practice. As Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton told the media: “the Bakke case has not left me with any duty to instruct the EEOC staff to do anything different.”

    What we have left is a quota that necessarily requires Harvard to discriminate against the most qualified candidates in favor of a social engineering scheme that fosters nothing but suspicion and resentment. Welcome to the United States of Mediocrity sometimes known in the vernacular as a nation in decline. And the upshot is that the the 14th Amendment’s wording seems infinitely malleable.

    1. Harvard admits more legacy students than African Americans, so I don’t think they’re bending too far to rescue the oppressed. Don’t let the facts get in the way though!

      1. Is Harvard refusing to admit African American students who seem likely to benefit from being admitted? Are you really rescuing anyone by overmatching them and setting them up for failure? Just asking.

        1. I don’t believe that Harvard is admitting Africans who will flunk out. These are black students from middle to upper middle class backgrounds who will take an easy major and manage to graduate; but they won’t excel. Michele Obama is an example. She grew up in a two-parent, middle class, home owning family. Both Michele and her brother went to Princeton, where she majored in Sociology and wrote her senior thesis on ‘the black experience at Princeton.’ She interviewed other black students and wrote up her findings; hardly an intellectual challenge! She then went on to Harvard Law and a career in a Big Law firm which lasted about two years, followed by working for a Chicago hospital in community outreach, followed by being a stay-at-home Mother. Her brother became a college basketball coach. All in all, a waste of a highly elite education, and more appropriate to a state college education.

      2. Nope: Are you assuming that all “legacy” admittees are white? Try Googling “black Harvard graduates.” There is a significant pool of black Harvard grads in this country and around the world whose children will qualify as legacies. Barack Obama’s father went to Harvard back in the 60s. There has been affirmative action at Harvard ever since the Civil Rights Act of 1965. That’s more than a half-century, and three generations of beneficiaries.

        1. TIN – I actually did some research as you suggested (guessing I’m the only one of the two of us who did so). In 1982 – right about smack dab where you would expect the parents of this year’s legacy class to be – Harvard admitted only 97 black freshman (per a 1986 NYT article “The Dwindling Black Presence on Campus”).

  13. This lawsuit isn’t going anywhere. SCOTUS has already ruled recently that it’s okay to discriminate against whites in college admissions, so why should Asians be any different? After all, Asians have higher income and educational levels than whites, and are more likely to have educated, professional parents. Since Asians and Jews have the highest socio-economic status of any ethnic groups in the U.S., it’s hard to argue that they are suffering from discrimination. Especially when Asian groups favor discriminating against whites when it is in their interest (i.e., employment), but disfavor racial discrimination when it hurts them (college admissions). You can’t have it both ways. Yes, there was a time when people were judged as individuals in this country, but those days are, unfortunately, long gone. Now we are assessed as members of groups, with each group clamoring for special status.

    1. If you don’t think it’s possible to “have it both ways” you haven’t been paying attention.

  14. Harvard is pursuing a losing strategy. My guess is they are guilty as hell, but it is just a guess.

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