If college admissions were based on merit alone, black students would have a disproportionately mammoth task ahead of them: not only ensuring that they meet Harvard's standards, but overcoming unfair resource distribution to do so.
(Students for Fair Admissions, the group challenging Harvard's use of affirmative action in Boston this week, also backed Fisher, a white female, in this lawsuit.) The court ruled on Fisher's case in 2016, saying that schools must prove their race-conscious admissions strategy is the only way to achieve diversity.
SFFA is headed by Edward Blum, an activist involved in other high-profile cases that have challenged the use of race in colleges admissions.
More than 25 witnesses are expected to be called over the next three weeks in the case being tried before US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs.
Harvard University intentionally uses a vague "personal rating" to reject Asian-American applicants in favor of students from other racial backgrounds, according to lawyers on one side of a trial that began Monday and carries weighty implications for dozens of other USA colleges.
Harvard, the Journal reported, denies the allegation, insisting that, in line with Supreme Court precedent governing federal anti-discrimination statutes, race is just one of many factors it takes into account in making admissions decisions.
The case already has pulled back the curtain on aspects of Harvard's secretive admissions process, including a "personal rating" that measures certain character traits.
Supporters attend the "Rally for the American Dream - Equal Education Rights for All", ahead of the start of the trial in a lawsuit accusing Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-American applicants, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 14, 2018.
Earlier this year, the Justice and Education Departments launched a separate civil rights investigation into whether Yale discriminates against Asian-American applicants, amid a similar probe into Harvard.
In order to discriminate, Lee said, Harvard admissions officers would have to go through so many machinations that it would be "nonsensical".
Asian Americans "do shockingly. poorly", Mortara said, compared to African Americans.
The U.S. Justice Department, which launched a related probe of Harvard after Republican President Donald Trump took office past year, has backed SFFA's case, saying Harvard has not seriously considered alternative, race-neutral approaches to admissions.
William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions since 1986, was the first witness.
Aware of the negative publicity the case could bring to his institution, Harvard's recently appointed president Larry Becow issued a letter to staff and students before the trial opened recalling the college's duty to incorporate racial diversity into the campus.
The lawsuit has resonated with Asian-Americans like Benjamin Yu, president of The Orange Club, an Orange County political group comprised of conservative Chinese-Americans.
Harrison Chen, an Asian-American student who was rejected by Harvard and has worked with the plaintiff organization, Students for Fair Admissions, disagrees.
"The sinister truth is that while the lawsuit in question only targets Harvard explicitly, its controversial nature and past behavior of its litigator means it's likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court". The group says that's because Harvard consistently gives them lower scores on the personal rating, which, according to a document revealed by the group Monday, is only loosely defined in Harvard policies.
The replacement of conservative Kavanaugh, for the more moderate retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, increases the chances that the 1978 affirmative action landmark, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, would be overruled.