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An Attorney For The Harvard Plaintiffs Had A Cutting Response To The Decision Upholding Race-Conscious Policies

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent

An attorney for the Asian-American students challenging Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policies styled an Oct. 1 decision siding with the university “facially absurd and wrong” during remarks at a Tuesday Federalist Society event.

An anti-affirmative action group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) challenged Harvard’s practices in federal court. Among other claims, the plaintiffs said an admissions criteria called the personal rating, which scored applicants on intangibles like self-confidence, is biased against Asian-Americans, citing their consistently low scores as compared to all other demographic groups.

“No one — not Judge Burroughs, not Harvard — has ever explained how it is that African Americans and Hispanics just have much better objective personal qualities than white and Asian applicants,” Adam Mortara said, according to The Harvard Crimson. “They’ve never done it.”

“I guess there’s just something more personally appealing about African American and Hispanic applicants,” Mortara added. Attendees shouted “There is!” in reply, according to the Crimson.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mortara said the contested admissions practices help Harvard maintain a “morally repugnant system of privilege preferences.” The lawsuit also accuses the university of engineering the racial makeup of its class, resulting in steady demographic profiles over time. (RELATED: Trump Nominees Poised For Key Role As Supreme Court Mulls Rights Of Gay, Trans Workers)

The entrance to Harvard Yard at Harvard University on August 30, 2018. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

The entrance to Harvard Yard at Harvard University on August 30, 2018. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs conceded there was a persistent and inexplicable gap in personal scores between Asian applicants and other racial groups over multiple admissions cycles. Yet she found that those disparities were neither significant nor the product of invidious discrimination.

The decision also acknowledged race was a decisive admissions factor for about half of Harvard’s black and Hispanic students. Burroughs cautioned those students were not admitted merely for the sake of diversity.

Mortara limited his criticisms to the decision and praised Burroughs for her even-handedness, according to the Crimson. SFFA filed a notice of appeal Oct. 4. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the challenge.

The Department of Justice filed a legal brief arguing Harvard’s policy is unlawful in August 2018.

Harvard did not reply to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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