Edward Blum must have found his plaintiffs.
Blum is the retired stockbroker who, with the financial backing of several conservative donors, has been pumping named plaintiffs into some recent high-profile civil rights challenges that have landed before the U.S. Supreme Court — namely, the Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case and the Shelby County v. Holder voting rights case.
Over the past year or so, through his Project on Fair Representation, Blum has targeted the admission practices of three universities — UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard University,and the University of Wisconsin — inviting students who were rejected by those schools to contact the project.
On websites set up for each school — at UNCnotfair.org, for example — the group poses this question: “Were you denied admission to the University of North Carolina? It may be because you’re the wrong race.”
Today the group announced the filing of two separate lawsuits against Harvard and UNC – Chapel Hill, respectively, alleging that the schools unlawfully used racial and ethnic classifications in admissions.
The UNC complaint, filed in Greensboro, begins with this: “This is an action brought under the Fourteenth Amendment and federal civil rights laws to prohibit UNC-Chapel Hill from engaging in intentional discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity.”
The cases represent the first step in a long march towards a hoped-for U.S. Supreme Court ban on all forms of racial and ethnic preference in university admissions, according to SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston:
The basic thrust of the new lawsuits is that Harvard and the flagship university in North Carolina are using admissions programs that cannot satisfy the tough constitutional test for judging race-based policy — “strict scrutiny.” But their broader theme is that the Supreme Court’s affirmative action efforts beginning with the Bakke ruling have failed to end racial bias in admissions programs, so it is now time to overrule Bakke and at least one other decision.
[T]he Harvard and UNC lawsuits clearly were prepared to build a case in lower courts so that, perhaps two or three years from now, the lawsuits could reach the Supreme Court for an ultimate test of affirmative action, at least in college admissions.
In the lawsuits, brought under the name “Students for Fair Admissions Inc,” .”The lawsuits do not ask the courts to abandon the idea that racial diversity among college students is a valid educational goal. Instead, they contend that diversity can be achieved by race-neutral alternatives, so public colleges and those that receive federal funds should be ordered to end, altogether, any use of race in the process.
Read the full UNC complaint here.