Conservative activist steers U.S. Supreme Court college race cases

  • Edward Blum made charges against Harvard, UNC
  • Arguments set for Monday; a decision expected at the end of June

Oct 27 (Reuters) – As the U.S. Supreme Court next week considers the end of policies that many colleges and universities use to increase the number of black and Hispanic students, an activist will be there to watch the critical moment to end the problem. Racial interests that seek to enhance the diversity of American life.

Problems related to the admission rules used by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina were brought by a group called Students for Fair Admissions founded and led by Edward Blum, a 70-year-old former stockbroker and unsuccessful Republican congressman.

The Supreme Court is due to hear arguments in the two cases on Monday, with verdicts expected by the end of June. The case gives his 6-3 majority another chance to deliver blockbuster decisions after rulings four months ago that slashed abortion rights and expanded gun rights.

Conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – are expected to listen to the arguments that Blum argued against the principle of legitimacy, designed as a way to eliminate discrimination. As such, Blum could be on the verge of a major legislative victory as he fights racial policies not only in higher education but in areas such as elections and diversity in corporate America.

“I’m a one-trick pony,” Blum said in an interview. “I hope and care about eliminating racial and ethnic differences in our public policy.”

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Blum, who is white, has dedicated his work to creating a community for the blind.

“A person’s race or ethnicity should not be used to help or harm them in their life,” said Blum.

His critics paint his work as an anti-racial war aimed at undermining policies designed to help non-white Americans overcome the racial barriers that persist in the US.

“They’re making it harder for institutions, organizations and governments to make diversity a clear goal,” said Kristin Penner, co-founder of the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, which advocates for action. “And so people of color continue to be locked out of positions.”

Blum’s goal is for the Supreme Court to change what has happened by allowing competition to be a factor that results in acceptance.

Blum lost a previous case challenging the admissions process for students of color when the court ruled 4-3 in 2016 against a white woman who hired her as a prosecutor at the University of Texas after she was denied admission. Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive vote. The court has improved since then. Kennedy himself retired in 2018.

With Monday’s arguments, the court will have taken up eight cases related to the colors produced by Blum. For example, a Blum-backed ruling led to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a central part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that forced nine states, mostly in the South, to get federal approval to change voting laws affecting blacks and other minorities. . .

In addition, Blum last year founded the Alliance For Fair Board Recruitment and filed lawsuits challenging Nasdaq’s rules and California laws mandating gender and racial diversity on corporate boards.

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From his home in South Thomaston, Maine, Blum has organized a 14-year legal campaign to oppose mandatory college and university admissions.

The Supreme Court upheld such recognition in a landmark 1978 decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, saying that competition can be considered as one of several reasons, along with academic and foreign policy, but the difference between the forbidden species. The court reaffirmed this in 2003.

Blum in 2008 recruited Abigail Fisher, the daughter of his ex-girlfriend, and through his first group, the Project for Fair Representation, helped pay for his suit against the University of Texas that issued a 2016 decision that he called “a huge disappointment.”

By then, Blum had shifted gears to the next generation of litigation, creating Students for Fair Admissions in 2014 and turning to Harvard and UNC. The lawsuits accused UNC of discriminating against whites and Asian Americans and Harvard for discriminating against Asian Americans.

Boston University School of Law professor Jonathan Feingold said Blum was “clear” in saying he needs Asian American plaintiffs this time to sue universities, which allows him to “make a case that taking action is alienating students of color from one another.”

Blum raised more than $8 million from 2015 to 2020 for Students for Fair Admissions, most of which covered legal fees. Major checks came from philanthropists including DonorsTrust and the Searle Freedom Trust. Blum said 5,000 smaller donors also contributed.

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Students for Fair Admissions says it has 20,000 members. Its critics said it was not a true membership group at all. No Students for Fair Admissions members served as plaintiffs or testified in court in Harvard and UNC cases where the group lost in lower courts. The Supreme Court in January agreed to hear appeals filed by Blum in both cases.

The Harvard lawsuit accused the university of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin under any program or activity that receives federal financial aid.

The UNC lawsuit accused the university of violating the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Blum and his supporters argue that the 14th Amendment prohibits public institutions, including public universities like UNC, from treating people differently based on race.

“His efforts and his extensive work are paying off because you now have a court that is more sensitive to the arguments that are being made here,” Feingold said.

For Blum, the potential success of Harvard and UNC may not be the final word in the fight against racial discrimination in student admissions.

“It could be the beginning of the end,” Blum said. “In all probability, it may be the end of the beginning.”

Nate Raymond reports in Boston; He was replaced by Will Dunham

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nate Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.[email protected]


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