Group will appeal federal ruling on Harvard admissions

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

The group that challenged Harvard University’s admissions process is appealing a federal judge’s ruling this week that the Ivy League school does not discriminate against Asian-American applicants, according to court records.

Students for Fair Admissions is appealing to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, according to a Friday court filing.

Edward Blum, president of the group, said in Friday statement, “Students for Fair Admissions looks forward to making our appeal to the US First Circuit Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the US Supreme Court.”

William Lee, an attorney with WilmerHale, who represented Harvard in the case and is also a member of the university’s governing board, said Friday the school “will vigorously defend the Court’s decision in this case.”


“The Court’s ruling that Harvard does not discriminate on the basis of race in its admissions process, and that Harvard’s pursuit of the diverse student body central to its educational mission is lawful, was very gratifying and provides a clear path forward to resolve this important case,” he said in a statement.

In a closely watched case that is likely to ripple across the country, US District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs on Tuesday ruled that while Harvard could improve its admissions process with more training and monitoring, it is “very fine,” legally sound, and uses race only in a narrow way.

“Throughout this trial and after a careful review of all exhibits and written submissions, there is no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever or intentional discrimination on the part of Harvard beyond its use of a race conscious admissions policy, nor is there any evidence that any particular admissions decision was negatively affected by Asian American identity,” wrote Burroughs in her 130-page ruling.

The ruling comes nearly a year after the trial that pitted Harvard against Students for Fair Admissions. Burroughs said the plaintiff, “did not present a single admissions file that reflected any discriminatory animus, or even an application of an Asian American who it contended should have or would have been admitted absent an unfairly deflated personal rating.”


Deirdre Fernandes of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.