The U.S. Department of Justice is throwing its support behind an anti-affirmative action group that is suing Harvard University over alleged racial discrimination in its admissions policies.
In a document filed in federal court on Thursday, the Justice Department said it is siding with Students for Fair Admissions in its request for a trial, currently scheduled to begin in mid-October.
The Justice Department said in a press release that Harvard has “failed to show that it does not unlawfully discriminate against Asian Americans.”
Harvard has filed a motion for summary judgment in its favor, which if approved by a judge would mean the case would not be tried. It argues that the lawsuit is baseless.
In a statement, Harvard said it was “deeply disappointed” that the Justice Department has taken the plaintiff’s side, “recycling the same misleading and hollow arguments that prove nothing more than the emptiness of the case against Harvard.”
“Harvard does not discriminate against applicants from any group, and will continue to vigorously defend the legal right of every college and university to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which the Supreme Court has consistently upheld for more than 40 years,” the university added.
This lawsuit dates back to 2014, and alleges that Harvard is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in programs that receive federal funding. In its court filing Thursday, the Justice Department says Harvard receives “millions of taxpayer dollars every year.”
The Justice Department says Harvard’s admissions office uses a “personal rating” for applicants. It says in the court filing that the “vague and elusory” scoring system of “subjective” factors could be biased against Asian-Americans. According to the Justice Department, “it scores Asian-American applicants lower on the personal rating than white applicants.”