Are Asian American college applicants at a disadvantage? Supreme Court debate stirs fear and hope
A series of state-level hearings and court decisions in the past decade have raised questions about the Asian American college applicant experience. This year the Supreme Court is taking up the issue, with a major case involving California, whose Legislature has used an appeals process known as the “Exceptions and Clarifications” statute to delay hearings for Asian American applicants for two years or more.
The issue is especially fraught for Asian American applicants because of their lower admission rates to college, which has been exacerbated by state-level efforts to delay hearings for decades. At the same time, Asian Americans comprise an increasingly large proportion of college students.
In November, the Supreme Court will decide whether the delays violated the equal protection and due process rights of Asian American applicants for college admissions, a central question in the Asian American struggle for recognition as a distinct group with its own rights.
How the hearings were delayed
The California Legislature in 2015 moved forward with a law that would have created a two-year wait period for applicants who are either of a certain class or otherwise in excess of a certain state-given maximum number of points on their college admissions records. A group of attorneys for the National Association of Asian American Graduates challenged the law.
But just as the California Legislature’s efforts to extend the two-year wait period for Asian American applicants had stalled earlier in the year, the federal government intervened and asked the Supreme Court to step in. That intervention is the focus of the case that will be argued on Dec. 8 in the Supreme Court’s San Francisco courtroom.
In the meantime, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education filed a brief in support of California. The Department argues that the Supreme Court shouldn’t hear the case, which, according to its brief, would only complicate the already complicated issues of how the government interprets the law.