Meet Edward Blum, the Man Who Wants to Kill Affirmative Action in Higher Education

In a federal lawsuit that went to trial this week, the organization Students for Fair Admissions is challenging Harvard University’s admissions practices, arguing that the consideration of race in the process violates the Equal Protection Clause.

So what’s at stake in this case? A lot. 

Just two years ago, in Fisher v. the University of Texas, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the consideration of race as part of a holistic admissions process, a practice known as affirmative action, is consistent with the Equal Protection Clause. The district court already dismissed this claim citing Fisher.

But make no mistake about it — the engineer behind this litigation is intent on sowing divisiveness amongst communities of color in an effort to dismantle diversity programs and civil rights protections that benefit all people of color. Students for Fair Admissions is the creation of Edward Blum. Blum is not a lawyer, but he has a long history of crafting legal attacks on civil rights.

After losing a congressional election in the early 1990s, Blum, who is white, challenged the Texas redistricting process as discriminating in favor of African-American and Latinx voters. While his success in that case, Bush v. Vera, was limited to particular districts, among his other challenges to the voting rights, Blum was behind Shelby v. Holder. That case gutted important protections in the Voting Rights Act with drastic effects for voters of color. His attacks on laws and policies designed to promote the equality of people of color are not limited to voting rights. Blum also crafted the unsuccessful challenge to race-conscious college admissions programs in Fisher v. University of Texas.

Failing in Fisher, Blum baldly strategized that he “needed Asian plaintiffs.” He formed Students for Fair Admissions as a vehicle to file litigation. The organization’s leadership consists solely of Mr. Blum, Abagail Fisher, and Richard Fisher, her father. Through Students for Fair Admissions, Blum recruited “members” and filed his challenge to college admissions against Harvard with a twist. This time, Blum claims that the consideration of race discriminates against Asian-Americans.

Listen to our Podcast on the Case Against Harvard

While Blum now purports to represent the interests of Asian-Americans, none of his goals in litigation have changed. Blum isn’t seeking to ensure that Harvard adequately addresses any implicit biases against Asian-Americans in its admissions practices, nor is he asking Harvard to take other affirmative steps to recognize the value of Asian-American applicants.

The relief Blum seeks is narrowly focused on what has always been his objective: a prohibition on any awareness of race in college admissions. If Blum gets his wish, statistical projections show that white applicants will be the primary beneficiaries. Not talking about race doesn’t erase discrimination; it reinforces the privileges of white applicants by ignoring the ways in which deep-seeded structural racial inequality impacts individuals.

Blum’s cynical attempt to use members of the Asian-American community seeks to pit people of color against one another. This is the direct antithesis of race-conscious admissions programs, which endeavor to create richly diverse college campuses. A college community that includes diversity across many spectrums, including race, allows students to learn from one another and to work together. The dialogue and debate that happens on college campuses will prepare students for engagement in the private sector workforce, the military, and many facets of civil society. 

Contemporary events demonstrate all too clearly that racial divides and racial discrimination persist in America. In this context, efforts to promote diversity cannot be viewed as mere niceties, and attacks on those efforts cannot be treated as benign. There are real consequences for democracy at stake.

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Anonymous

What can you expect from a man who looks like a Latté Lapper?

Dr. Timothy Leary

"Real Americans drink coffee they don't lap lattés." Donald Trump circa 2015.

JimTom

As a lawyer one would think you'd be more concerned with whether the facts show Harvard is complying with the law, one which allows for only a very narrow focus on race as a weighted factor when all others are more or less equal. Instead, you make ad hominin attacks and question the plaintiff's motives. Perhaps try focusing on the actual question at hand. Does Harvard hold one race to a higher standard simply because of a single factor that is beyond their control?

Anonymous

The "facts" show that Edward Blum has tried repeatedly to attack voting rights for minorities, where following the Shelby vs. Holder case, GOP-run states like NC and TX immediately started enacting unfair practices to shut down DMVs in minority neighborhoods so people living couldn't there couldn't get proper IDs to vote and switched voting rules without fully notifying the public (look it up -- a Supreme Court case already found this to be the case in NC, where lawmakers purposely gerrymandered and blocked minority votes thanks to Edward Blum). In addition, Blum's organization is responsible for the two failed A. Fisher SCOTUS cases, a lawsuit against UNC-CH, and the lawsuit at Harvard, all in an attempt to stop race from being considered as one factor in college admissions. Note that Blum has never shown any interest in knocking down legacy admissions that generally favor white applicants or bonuses given to athletes with poor grades. No, the facts clearly reveal that Blum's motives are to destroy the civil rights gains minorities fought so hard and even in some instances even died to procure. Finally, the actual question at hand is whether Harvard shows bias against Asians, but that in no way should decide once and for all whether AA should no longer be used. Those are obviously two distinct, separate issues.

Anonymous

The "facts" show that Edward Blum has tried repeatedly to attack voting rights for minorities, where following the Shelby vs. Holder case, GOP-run states like NC and TX immediately started enacting unfair practices to shut down DMVs in minority neighborhoods so people living couldn't there couldn't get proper IDs to vote and switched voting rules without fully notifying the public (look it up -- a Supreme Court case already found this to be the case in NC, where lawmakers purposely gerrymandered and blocked minority votes thanks to Edward Blum). In addition, Blum's organization is responsible for the two failed A. Fisher SCOTUS cases, a lawsuit against UNC-CH, and the lawsuit at Harvard, all in an attempt to stop race from being considered as one factor in college admissions. Note that Blum has never shown any interest in knocking down legacy admissions that generally favor white applicants or bonuses given to athletes with poor grades. No, the facts clearly reveal that Blum's motives are to destroy the civil rights gains minorities fought so hard and even in some instances even died to procure. Finally, the actual question at hand is whether Harvard shows bias against Asians, but that in no way should decide once and for all whether AA should no longer be used. Those are obviously two distinct, separate issues.

Mr. Isaac

Ad Hominem is the word whites often use when they are called racist for being racist. You underestimate the vocabulary of this site's readership. You also misrepresent the "actual question at hand." There is no question. There is a statement: 'Why the ACLU must stop Ed Blum from using Asians to promote further discrimination against under-represented groups." I don't see you - or Blum - condemning Brandeis for discriminating against activist black applicants. Activism is a personality trait too. Of course, you probably don't know about the Brandeis affair. Ask one of your black co-workers about it. Oh, you say you don't have any? I am not surprised.

Anonymous

What does this have to do with the ACLU? Affirmative action is not a civil liberty.

Anonymous

....While Blum now purports to represent the interests of Asian-Americans, is willfully induced to legislate discrimination with taxpayers money.

Anonymous

"Diversity programs." HAHAHAHA!!!

Anonymous

Your bigotry is showing.....

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