In a surprising move, four Asian-American groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to end race-based college admission decisions claiming they discriminate against Asian applicants.

This move is counter to the stance most Asian-American advocacy groups typically take and argues that using race as a factor in admission leaves Asians out in the cold.

Inside Higher Ed has more information on the brief:

“Admission to the nation’s top universities and colleges is a zero-sum proposition. As aspiring applicants capable of graduating from these institutions outnumber available seats, the utilization of race as a ‘plus factor’ for some inexorably applies race as a ‘minus factor’ against those on the other side of the equation. Particularly hard-hit are Asian-American students, who demonstrate academic excellence at disproportionately high rates but often find the value of their work discounted on account of either their race, or nebulous criteria alluding to it,” says the brief.

It was filed on behalf of the 80-20 National Asian-American Educational Foundation, the National Federation of Indian American Associations, the Indian American Forum for Political Education, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. 

The brief focuses heavily on research studies such as the work that produced the 2009 book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life

The book suggested that private institutions essentially admit black students with SAT scores 310 points below those of comparable white students. And the book argued that Asian-American applicants need SAT scores 140 points higher than those of white students to stand the same chances of admission.

Several Asian-American groups — the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Asian American Justice Center, Asian American Institute, and Asian Law Caucus — have filed briefs opposing getting rid of raced-based admission practices. These groups argue that Asian-Americans have benefited from such programs and that the problem with college admissions isn’t that black and Latino students take spots from Asians, but that the system has become hyper competitive.

The news of this brief comes on the heels of a new study by the Pew Center, which held Asian Americans up as a sort of model minority, with higher education rates and incomes than their peers. However the study was published, many Asian Americans have been very vocal about the fact that their community isn’t monolithic and still faces very real challenges such a poverty.

The brief filed by the Asian-American groups is just one of three challenges to race-based admission policies the Supreme Court is considering. It will interesting to see how the highly partisan court decides in the coming year.

  • Ravi

    This appears to be a very different position from your earlier statements. Earlier you seemed to question the validity of an argument for A.A. on the basis of reparations saying:

    “Am I to understand that you select contributors rationalize A.A. as being some sort of a reparation or consolation for years of systematic racism and past slavery? So in that sense, the US should only apply A.A. to Black American descendants of African slaves? Black Americans who’s families came to the US through immigration should be excluded? In the same thought process, than shouldn’t a Japanese American descendant of Japanese people forced into internment camps during WWII take precedent over a 2nd generation Haitian American? If not, then your argument falls apart.”

    This makes you seem a bit anti-reparations and also seems to be very different than your current position. I’m sure there is some way to reconcile your current and former positions, but it isn’t readily apparent how. It is possible that this seemingly contradictory stance might be a small factor in why people tend to characterize you in such vastly different ways.

    My critique was only in reference to your former position. It seemed you weren’t taking into account the fact that Japanese received reparations for the internment in your analysis of why their argument falls apart. Bringing up the Japanese would only be relevant if they didn’t get reparations. A.A. would serve as reparations for those that never got it. Additionally, trans-atlantic slavery didn’t just impact those that were taken. It decimated the whole of the western side of the continent and many millions died before even making it to America. Those that were to any extent affected would have a likely claim against the U.S. If we were to go to any country and wipe out a significant portion of the civilian population, a strong argument could be made that we owe restitution to those that we didn’t kill that remain in that country.

  • Ravi

    “Inequities in k – 12 education and higher education can both be addressed. More money and effort are being spent on addressing the latter — by far.”

    That should have read “spent on addressing the former”

    more money and effort are spent on fixing the k — 12 achievement gap. Relatively little is done in higher education save a few programs and the very inexpensive race-based preferences given in admissions and scholarships.

  • Rhuled Bi Reeson

    I find it ironic that Asian Americans are in a similar situation that Jewish Americans were on this topic over 40 years ago. Here is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times’ “Times Topics” web page:

    “Affirmative action, however, met staunch opposition from Jews, who assailed what they called a quota system. Some leaders feared that it would create polarization jeopardizing the economic and political status of Jews and white middle-class people — that it was, in effect, reverse discrimination. Jews have long argued against the quotas of elite universities and colleges that were used to exclude them, regardless of academic merit. Jewish groups saw minority admissions programs as the reworking of the old, disreputable system.”

    A link to the article:

    Plus ça change…..

    I’m writing from Canada, and although we’re a very multicultural society (especially in cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) we don’t have anything like affirmative action quotas. That would frankly strike us as completely ridiculous.

    That being said, Canada hasn’t had a history of slavery either, so we don’t have that historical baggage which seems to be a partial reason for American affirmative action programs.

    From a viewpoint of fairness, if affirmative action can be seen as a form of reparations for slavery, then it should stand – but it only should be applied to descendants of American slaves. This could be a partial solution to the issue of AA applicants leaving too few spaces for other applicants to obtain.

  • educated

    Obviously you just so biased enough to leave out institutionalized discrimination against Asians like when they were paid next to nothing to build railroads and Japanese internment camps and the Chinese Exclusion Act, etc. These people got over it. You need to, too.

  • Insomniac

    @ KMO

    I’m late to this party…just got through all the posts.

    I don’t agree with a lot of what was in your ORIGINAL post, and I support a lot of what other commentators have said in opposition to what the Asians groups are saying in their petition to the USSC…these groups really need to take a step back and reflect for a moment.

    HOWEVER, I don’t agree with the post asking you why are you here on this site? Clearly you’re not a lunatic racist; so you’re welcome to throw in your 3 cents…hell, throw in a dime if you wish! We all rant at times, when we feel strongly about something. But as long as it is within the confines of the discussion, then so be it. I welcome your input and viewpoint…your thoughts evolved to reveal that your intentions were not sinister and diabolical.

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