Pacific Legal Foundation fights for equality under the law

By Sean Fowler | Apr 1, 2016

SACRAMENTO - At a panel on Affirmative Action held in February at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, three of the four panelists held generally the same positive opinion of the policy, but the fourth stood out for his differing view.

"Given the diversity and multiculturalism in the United States and the world today, I think it is a flawed system in that it uses racial qualifications and says you're going to get a plus-mark if you're of one race and you're going to get a minus-mark if you are of another race," attorney Wen Fa recently told the Northern California Record.

Wen Fa is a lawyer at the non-profit Pacific Legal Foundation.   Pacific Legal Foundation

Fa attended the panel to provide a dissenting voice on the policy of using racial qualifications in things like university admissions.

At the center of Fa's opposition to Affirmative Action is a recent lawsuit by the group Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard University, alleging that Asian students are discriminated against both in university literature and the admissions process itself.

 "Application guides for colleges are saying if you're Asian, don't talk about wanting to be a doctor or wanting to major in math or sciences, because that will not set you apart from other Asian candidates...," Fa said. "Studies have shown when you have an Asian applicant to Harvard, and in fact a lot of other universities, when you have an Asian applicant and say a black or Hispanic applicant with the exact same scores and extra-curricular activities, that the Asian applicant is less likely to succeed, even when accounting for other factors that might explain the discrepancy."

Fa said that while the non-profit Pacific Legal Foundation is keeping an eye on the Harvard case for now, it could file actions on behalf of students or others discriminated against.

That would not be the first time that PLF acted on behalf of a student fighting against Affirmative Action.

"For example, we supported Abigail Fisher in the Supreme Court...not just the Supreme Court but in many courts, in the 1st Circuit; and I think the first time it was in the Supreme Court, we filed a total of eight briefs in support of Ms. Fisher v. University of Texas," Fa said.

In that case, Fisher, a Caucasian student, alleged the university's use of race in its admission decision violated  the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

PLF also fights for equality in the areas of school choice (allowing parents to select schools that best match the needs of their children) and occupational licensing, ensuring the system is being used legitimately and not simply to remove competition. 

"We litigate cases from coast to coast," Fa said. "We've done equality under the law cases for decades now. We intend to continue doing these cases, as well as school choice cases and occupational cases from coast to coast."

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Pacific Legal Foundation University of California Berkeley

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