The N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Virginia Lt. Gov Winsome Sears, each the first black lieutenant governor of their respective state, have joined forces to pen a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Asian-American students suing Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill. Carolina Journal was present at the Lieutenant Governor’s Mansion on May 19 at a press conference where the North Carolina Asian American Coalition (NCAAC) thanked Robinson for his support.
The students in the lawsuit accuse the institutions of discriminatory admissions practices, where they are held to a higher standard during consideration because of their race. The Robinson/Sears Amicus brief was filed May 9th.
“While it can be argued that these policies had a role in helping many Americans overcome the persistent effects of historical and past discriminations in higher education, those effects are becoming less impactful the further we travel from the dark days of state-sanctioned discrimination,” said Robinson at the event. “Instead, they now function to unfairly discriminate against and deny opportunity to other ethnic and racial groups. Discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity is immoral in all of its forms, and we can do better. We must do better.”
The nonprofit group Students for Fair Admissions filed the original suit in 2014, but when it was ruled in November 2021 that Chapel Hill could continue to use affirmative action in their admissions, the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“To them [Harvard and UNC] Asians already have it all; they don’t need help. That’s what they think,” says Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United and author of An Inconvenient Minority, said in a speech during the event. “They can be discriminated against in favor of other minority groups because, ‘Oh! You guys are already rich, you guys already have money, you guys are already doctors.’ But they don’t understand how much sacrifice a culture has to make to come to this country with no money, no connections, no generation wealth, no privilege, and through the shear power of hard work and commitment to education and discipline come to a state where they can provide for their families.”
Robinson told the crowd that universities should prioritize accepting the brightest students in order to promote innovation.
“In this age, our nation desperately needs our best and brightest to be our most highly-educated and prepared to meet the challenges of a dynamic global economy,” Robinson said. “Our international competitors in China and around the world aren’t having the economic success they are because they prioritize diversity and equity and inclusion. They are rivaling the American economy because their priority is that their very best and brightest students are empowered to do great things and afforded the very best educational opportunities available.”
Alongside Robinson during the press conference were two other prominent black Republicans: Vernon Robinson, conservative activist and former U.S. Air Force captain; and Clarence Henderson, president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of NC, and participant in the Greensboro Woolworth lunch-counter sit-in.
“We need to make sure that we all have the same rights,” Henderson said during his speech. “We are at a place right now where people are trying to take away our rights. They’re trying to take us back to economic slavery.”
“It will affect the way that universities across the country use race in their admissions process and level the playing field,” Brian LiVecchi, Robinson’s chief of staff and general counsel, told CJ after the event. “We think the practice of it [racial quotas] in any form is racial discrimination and should be done away with. After reading up on the case and reading up on the briefs, Harvard is particularly egregious in how they do it. They’re almost out in the open about the fact that, ‘We don’t want as many Asians as we want other races because there are too many of them.’”
The Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing arguments in its next term, which starts in October. Any decision on the case is not expected until spring or summer of 2023.