Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Michelle Steel (CA-48)
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) led 80 of their congressional colleagues to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in two landmark cases currently before the Supreme Court of the United States. The consolidated cases, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, are set for oral arguments before the Court during the fall term to discuss ending the use of race as a factor in college admissions decisions.
In the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision, the court held that, in making admissions decisions, colleges and universities may use race as one factor among many, so long as that use is “narrowly tailored” and furthers the compelling interest of obtaining the benefits of a diverse student body. The brief filed by the Members before the Court supports overturning this precedent set forth in Grutter.
Student records filed in the case against Harvard in 2018 showed that Asian-American applicants were routinely rated lower than others “on traits like ‘positive personality,’ likability, courage, kindness, and being ‘widely respected.’” Though these applicants often had higher test scores and grades, their personality ratings brought down their overall admissions scores, and hurt their admissions chances.
“Discrimination of any kind has no place in our country, and that includes discrimination in the halls of our schools and universities. I’ve worked for decades to bring fairness to our education system because students deserve to be judged on their hard work and commitment to learning, not by their race. Especially during Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, I’m proud to lead my colleagues in Congress in support of the next generation of students achieving the American Dream on their own merits,” said Rep. Steel.
“In my office, on the mantle above the fireplace, sits a bust of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a daily reminder of the fight for Justice and that our country’s aspiration should be to judge people not on the color of their skin but the content of their character. Harvard University and the University of North Carolina have both lost sight of that. Their blatant discrimination against Asian Americans is wrong, and I hope the Supreme Court will recognize what my colleagues in the House and Senate see: These universities are flagrantly violating our Civil Rights laws. It must end,” said Senator Cruz.
Other members signing onto the brief include House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), House Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“Discrimination is wrong and as a country we should unite to defeat it wherever it exists,” said Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. “This same sentiment should hold true when it comes to the admissions process at America’s colleges and universities. A race-based admissions system is unfair and runs counter to who we are as Americans. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to compete based on their own determination and achievements. I am proud to join this effort with Rep. Michelle Steel and my fellow Republican colleagues in standing up for a fair system that recognizes hard work and individual merit.”
“Elite universities like Harvard and the University of North Carolina are denying admission to qualified students because of race. Their emphasis on subjective rating systems and the applicant’s race instead of academic performance ignores the equal protection granted to all citizens under the law and should alarm every American who believes that hard work and merit are the pathway to success. Congresswoman Michelle Steel has worked for decades to ensure there is a level playing field for students in our education system. I am proud to sign onto her amicus brief advocating for integrity and equal treatment in the admissions process because discriminatory admissions practices are unfair and go against our nation’s values,” said Whip Steve Scalise.
“No American should be denied educational opportunities because of their race,” Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik said. “College admissions should be determined on individual merit, and it is unacceptable that universities are using race-based preferential treatment to discriminate against Asian-Americans. In the face of this affront to the Fourteenth Amendment, I am proud to stand with Congresswoman Steel and urge the Court to uphold the constitutional guarantee of equality under the law.”
“Fairness is the lynchpin to educational opportunity in America – where an individual succeeds based on his or her own merit rather than meeting artificial quotas,” said Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Foxx. “Academia’s ivory towers must be reined in. This amicus brief highlights why fairness and merit must be restored in our nation’s postsecondary education system.”
The full brief can be found here.
In April, Rep. Steel introduced the Helping Applicants Receive Valid and Reasonable Decisions (HARVARD) Act, which would promote transparency at institutions of higher education by requiring them to list their usage of personality traits in admissions decisions. The HARVARD Act would require the university or college to make the use of these traits public, posting on a public website and application materials.
Last year, as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Rep. Steel questioned Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about these discriminatory policies. He agreed they were wrong, stating “I believe students should have an opportunity to apply and get into colleges based on their own merit.”
Rep. Steel supported and campaigned for California’s Proposition 209 in 1996, which banned racial preferences in public hiring, education and contracting. Subsequently, minority graduation rates improved drastically. Last year in California, Democrats introduced Proposition 16 to bring back racial preferences in hiring, contracting and our education system. Californians overwhelmingly rejected it.