San Francisco, CA — Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) joined Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and 31 other Asian American groups as co-amici in an amicus brief supporting race-conscious admissions at Harvard University. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently granted writs of certiorari to both federal lawsuits Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. University of North Carolina, allowing the conservative court to review the consolidated cases in fall 2022.
Our amicus brief dispels prevailing myths that pit Asian Americans against other students of color and highlights the cynical racism that undergirds SFFA’s attempt to roll back affirmative action after 40 years of well-settled law.
This lawsuit is being brought forward by anti-civil rights activist Edward Blum to reverse decades of holistic admissions policy that fosters the educational benefits of diversity. The Supreme Court’s decision will have potential ramifications for public and private higher education institutions across the country for decades to come.
Asian Americans do face discrimination in society. With ongoing xenophobia and hate crimes, affirmative action policies that recognize and remedy ongoing and new disparities are needed more than ever.
Throughout the intensive review of the lower courts, there was no evidence of negative action against Asian American students in admissions presented in the lawsuit, and no Asian American students testified that they experienced discrimination. Despite these facts, SFFA seeks the complete elimination of the race-conscious programs that exist to address bias or unfair treatment of Asian American students.
These cases are of special concern to CAA, which was founded in 1969 to address institutional racism that systematically excluded Chinese Americans from major sectors of the labor market and promotional opportunity, vital public resources and services, and participation in civic affairs at local, state and national levels. For over fifty years, CAA has used affirmative action as a critical policy tool to advance fairness and equality for Chinese Americans in these and other areas.
Equal and fair access to quality public higher education of Asian Americans has also been a priority for CAA since its inception. In the 1970s, we fought for and won the rights of thousands of Chinese-speaking students in public schools in Lau v. Nichols in 1974.
As recent as 2021 with our successful campaign to exclude SAT and ACT scores in undergraduate admissions, CAA has fought against University of California policies that were discriminatory or biased against Asian Americans. CAA has also defeated efforts by California State University to deny access to predominantly immigrant students who have needed English assistance.
Without affirmative action, we could not have made these and other gains locally and across the country. Through this case and beyond, CAA will continue to fight for students’ right to attend racially diverse public schools, colleges, and universities that are universal, high-quality, no-cost, and tuition-free.
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) is a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco. Our mission is to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial injustice.