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In her insightful Comment on Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina (hereinafter SFFA cases), Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig critiques Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion for its “simplistic understanding of race and racism.” She interrogates the “doxa” — the “unexamined cultural beliefs” that structure the majority’s narrative on racial experiences. Onwuachi- Willig elucidates how Chief Justice Roberts accepts whiteness as a tacit norm and ignores the marginalization of people of color. She contrasts this with the “fuller” history of American racism brought forth by Justices Sotomayor and Jackson in their dissents. And she deftly adds to their counternarrative with her own multifaceted analysis, incorporating narrative theory, history, and social science.

Nevertheless, one important aspect of this “fuller” history was missing throughout: the precarious positioning of Asian Americans. I make this observation as an Asian American academic — one who has written extensively about Asian Americans and affirmative action, sometimes in a very personal manner. We had an integral role in the cases, particularly in SFFA v. Harvard, which spotlighted its Asian American plaintiffs. But although five of the six opinions mentioned us, their discussions lacked depth. The opinions did not situate Asian Americans within the broader U.S. racial landscape. They did not capture the complexity of Asian American identity. And they could not give voice to our experiences. What struck me as I read the opinions, and as I reflected on Onwuachi-Willig’s analysis, is the need for an Asian American Supreme Court Justice.

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Harvard Law Review Forum



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affirmative action, Asian Americans, Supreme Court, diversity, education

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Law and Race Commons



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