An affirmative action battle is again playing out at the highest levels, only this time with Asian Americans at the center of the controversy. At the heart of the matter is the question of whether the Supreme Court should reconsider race in college admissions. The group, Students for Fair Admissions, has taken aim at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, alleging that Asian Americans are less likely to be admitted than comparably qualified white, Black, or Latino applicants. In two separate cases, the group claims that 1.) Harvard’s admissions policy is regressive and discriminates against Asian Americans, and 2.) UNC – which is a public institution and therefore covered by the 14th amendment’s equal protection guarantee – violates both Title VI and the Constitution with its use of race in admissions. But opponents say race-conscious decision making is a necessary tool to address longstanding racism and discrimination. As such, in this timely debate, we ask the question of whether affirmative action is indeed unfair to Asian Americans.
Lee Cheng is an attorney and community activist who has fought discrimination against Asian Americans for almost three decades. He helped found the Asian American Legal Foundation and Asian American Coalition for Education. Mr. Cheng has worked at various top law firms, including Latham & Watkins, and in a variety of corporate roles, including Chief Legal Officer for online retailer Newegg.com and Chief Operating Officer for Gibson Guitars. He has also served on the Board of Directors of various community and business groups, including OCA-San Francisco Chapter, the Harvard Club of San Francisco, and the Lowell High School Alumni Association. Mr. Cheng also worked in the Harvard College admissions process as an alumni interviewer for nearly 25 years.
JOHN C. YANG
John C. Yang is the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. In 1997, he co-founded the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the direct service legal needs of Asian Pacific Americans in the D.C. metropolitan area. He served as chair of the Asian American Justice Center after serving as treasurer of the organization and as a member of its National Advisory Council. Yang was president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association from 2003 to 2004, and has served as Co-Chair of NAPABA’s Judiciary and Executive Nominations & Appointments Committee. In that capacity, he worked extensively with the White House and the U.S. Senate in securing the nomination and confirmation of over 20 Asian American and Pacific Islander federal judges and numerous other Senate-confirmed Presidential appointments. Previously, he was a partner with a major Washington, D.C. law firm, and also worked in Shanghai, China for several years as the legal director for the Asia-Pacific operations of a U.S. Fortune 200 company. ===================================
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