Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) published a press release on Monday detailing a brief that he and 84 legislators filed to the Supreme Court that calls for an end to discrimination against Asian American college applicants.
Cruz spearheaded the brief with Korean American Congresswoman Michelle Steel (R, CA-48), who has consistently denounced elite higher education institutions’ admission policies that factor in an applicant’s race to promote campus diversity.
Cruz and Steel rallied the support of 13 Republican Senators, including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rand Paul (R-KY), and 70 Republican House Representatives. Steel’s fellow Korean American California representative Young Kim (R, CA-29) was also on the list of signees.
The filing lists “Students for fair admissions” (petitioners) versus the “President and fellows of Harvard College” (respondents) and also the “Students for fair admissions” (petitioners) versus the “University of North Carolina et. al.” (respondents).
The brief begins with the purpose of intent, which states that all members of the Senate and House were committed to the principle of equality under law “as guaranteed” by the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin among other things.
Legislators argued that “no American should be denied educational opportunities because of race,” citing the rejection of Asian American applicants due to their race by Harvard and the University of North Carolina as unconstitutional.
The brief went on to label Asian Americans as victims of discrimination, arguing that race-conscious admissions single out Asian American applicants.
“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 Asian immigrants from racial prejudice. And the burdens imposed on petitioner illustrate a wider trend. Asian-Americans are increasingly victimized by discriminatory practices.”
The brief also included a petition to overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 landmark case in which a white law school applicant, Barbara Grutter, was denied admissions from Michigan Law despite her impressive qualifications, including a 3.8 undergraduate GPA and LSAT score of 161.
The Michigan Law School responded by saying that the race of an applicant was taken into consideration in making its decision to not admit her because it serves a “compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body.”
The Supreme Court ruled that a university may adopt “narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”
The very justification of “racial balancing,” GOP representatives argued, is “an aim that is unconstitutional on its face,” with the Grutter case being a “constitutional outlier.”
They added that race-conscious college admissions, laws and policies should only “survive judicial scrutiny” if “necessary to remedy the effects of an institution’s past discrimination.”
The brief also raised the question of why the protections that originated from the Brown v. Board of Education case should not extend to higher education.
“No one has convincingly explained why dividing schoolchildren by race is unconstitutional while dividing young adults by race is permissible.”
The presence of Asian Americans in the GOP has been on the rise, with the New York state GOP announcing its new Asian American caucus earlier this year and Asian American districts having been found to favor GOP candidates.
If Grutter v. Bollinger is overruled, it might be seen as a big victory for the GOP in demonstrating their support to Asian Americans.
A GOP victory would also mark an end to affirmative action policies that work to increase the enrollment and representation of underrepresented, primarily Black and Hispanic, students.
Featured Image via Kurt Kaiser