Admissions; Affirmative Action; Affirmative Action; Students; Equal Protection
Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (D. Mass. June 2, 2017)
Memorandum Opinion and Order denying Harvard College’s Motion to Dismiss. Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA), a nonprofit organization of voluntary members whose mission is to defend human and civil rights secured by law, filed suit alleging that Harvard uses racially and ethnically discriminatory policies and procedures in administering its undergraduate admissions program in violation of Title VI and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, SFFA contends that Harvard’s general consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions program violates the Equal Protection Clause because it allegedly engages in unlawful “racial balancing.” Additionally, SFFA alleges that Harvard's policies invidiously discriminate against Asian-American applicants in particular by admitting only a limited number of Asian-American applicants each year. Harvard challenged the SFFA’s standing to file suit, primarily based on the argument that SFFA’s members play no meaningful role in the organization and therefore SFFA cannot genuinely represent them for the purposes of associational standing. The court concluded that SFFA, as an organization of actual members, did not need to meet the “indicia of membership” test to assert associational standing and that it met all the remaining standing prerequisites.