Cruz, Steel lead brief in Harvard race admissions Supreme Court case: 'Heavy toll on Asian-American students'

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EXCLUSIVE: Senate and House Republicans joined together to file a brief in a closely watched case before the Supreme Court dealing with Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) use of race in admissions decisions, which they argue is illegal.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., are leading a joint amicus brief signed by 82 Republican lawmakers in the case brought by Students for Fair Admissions. The Republicans write in the brief that Harvard and UNC’s admissions policies “intentionally divide applicants by race.”

“Race-conscious admissions decisions inflict a heavy toll on Asian-American students. Treating them differently because of their race is a stark departure from equal protection decisions issued early on by this Court, which guarded Chinese immigrants from racial prejudice. And the burdens imposed on petitioner illustrate a wider trend. Asian-Americans are increasingly victimized by discriminatory practices,” the lawmakers say in their brief.

REP. MICHELLE STEEL INTRODUCES BILL TO HOLD COLLEGES ACCOUNTABLE FOR USING ‘PERSONALITY TRAITS’ IN ADMISSIONS

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., are leading a joint amicus brief signed by 82 Republican lawmakers in the case brought by Students for Fair Admissions.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., are leading a joint amicus brief signed by 82 Republican lawmakers in the case brought by Students for Fair Admissions. ((Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg via Getty Images)/(Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images))

“In my office, on the mantle above the fireplace, sits a bust of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a daily reminder of the fight for Justice and that our country’s aspiration should be to judge people not on the color of their skin but the content of their character,” Cruz told Fox News Digital.

“Harvard University and the University of North Carolina have both lost sight of that. Their blatant discrimination against Asian Americans is wrong, and I hope the Supreme Court will recognize what my colleagues in the House and Senate see: These universities are flagrantly violating our Civil Rights laws. It must end.”

Steel introduced legislation last month aimed at ensuring more transparency in higher education by requiring colleges and universities to be transparent about the usage of "personality traits" in admissions decisions.

Steel introduced legislation last month aimed at ensuring more transparency in higher education by requiring colleges and universities to be transparent about the usage of “personality traits” in admissions decisions.

“Discrimination of any kind has no place in our country, and that includes discrimination in the halls of our schools and universities,” Rep. Steel told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

“I’ve worked for decades to bring fairness to our education system because students deserve to be judged on their hard work and commitment to learning, not by their race. Especially during Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, I’m proud to lead my colleagues in Congress in support of the next generation of students achieving the American Dream on their own merits.” 

YOUNG KIM ON FIGHTING HARVARD’S ADMISSION POLICIES, CRIME TARGETING ASIAN AMERICANS: ‘LET’S NOT BE COMPLACENT’

The lawmakers argue that “equality under the law” guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment should be the constitutional standard for higher education admissions. In addition, they say that Title VI bans racial discrimination and the Supreme Court should apply its meaning in university admissions decisions. 

Their argument also emphasizes the unique position of Asian-Americans, who they say are “often victims of discriminatory policies,” especially since they earn top marks on academic scales, but are the “least likely” to score high marks on the personal ratings scale.

“This disparity suggests that admissions officers offset Asian-Americans’ academic and extra-curricular achievements by penalizing them in the subjective portions of the application,” says the filing.

The brief continues: “Race-conscious policies like those challenged here have victims as well as beneficiaries. Asian-Americans bear an outsized burden. They, no less than anyone else, are entitled to equal treatment without regard to race.”

Steel introduced legislation last month aimed at ensuring more transparency in higher education by requiring colleges and universities to be transparent about the usage of “personality traits” in admissions decisions.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The bill would require colleges to publicly acknowledge their use of personality traits in admissions, making it readily available on their application materials and websites. It would also require an explanation as to why they use such traits and the criteria and standards used in ratings of potential students.

In addition, a 2019 Pew poll showed that 73% of Americans believe that U.S. colleges should not use race or ethnicity as a factor in admissions decisions.

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Harvard and UNC maintain that their use of race in admissions is proper and does not discriminate against Asian Americans.

The high court will most likely make a decision in 2023 in the case, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College.

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