Harvard statement on November 12, 2020 First Circuit Court of Appeals opinion.
After nearly five years of litigation and a three-week trial, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled for Harvard on all counts in a decision that makes clear that Harvard’s admissions policies are consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and lawfully and appropriately pursue Harvard’s interest in diversity.
Judge Burroughs carefully considered both statistical evidence and extensive witness testimony and concluded that SFFA failed on each of its claims. The trial before the district court established that SFFA’s claims were factually and legally deficient. As Harvard noted in its Appellate brief: “SFFA’s arguments on appeal amount to no more than an unsuccessful effort to relitigate the facts, and they rely almost entirely on statistical analyses prepared by its expert that the district court largely rejected.” The facts in this case are still the facts.
Diversity, Not Discrimination
The District Court unequivocally affirmed the principles of diversity and inclusion central to Harvard’s mission, and to the missions of colleges and universities across the country. That decision recognized the importance of diversity to creating an environment “that fosters learning, improves scholarship, and encourages mutual respect and understanding.” And the District Court made clear there was “…no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever or any intentional discrimination on the part of Harvard…”
In February 2020, SFFA appealed Judge Burroughs’ decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. On September 16, 2020, Harvard and SFFA presented oral arguments to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, in front of Judge Juan Torruella, Judge Sandra Lynch, and Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard. On November 12, 2020, the First Circuit upheld the District Court's ruling in Harvard's favor.
SFFA Agenda: Overturn 40 Years of Supreme Court Precedent
SFFA was formed for the express purpose of ending race-conscious admissions. In this case and in others, SFFA has a clear agenda, to overturn Supreme Court precedents that affirm the right of universities to consider race as a factor to achieve the benefits of student body diversity, striking down the very policy the Supreme Court has endorsed as a model.