New York City; January 17, 2024: Today, Pacific Legal Foundation and Legal Insurrection Foundation filed a federal lawsuit targeting New York’s attempt to racially balance specialized enrollment in New York’s supplemental educational program for science and technology.

New York created the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) to provide more opportunities for disadvantaged students. But instead of straightforwardly using socio-economic need for admission, the program includes a racial bias: any black, Hispanic, Native American, or Alaskan native students can qualify. If a student’s parents who barely top the poverty line applied, but they are not part of the designated racial categories, the student is categorically ineligible.

“New York shouldn’t determine who gets the opportunity to attend educational programs based on race,” adds Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Erin Wilcox. “Such race-based decision-making violates the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and has been shot down at the U.S. Supreme Court numerous times.”

“The Supreme Court has been very clear. In 2007, it stated that ‘the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’ Then last year, it reaffirmed that racial discrimination in admissions is unacceptable, and ‘eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ All students of all races should have equal rights based on their merit to participate in programs like New York State’s STEP, says Wai Wah Chin, charter president of Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York, a plaintiff in the case.

“We are committed to requiring the State of New York to live up to its constitutional obligations to treat all students equally, without regard to race or ethnicity,” adds attorney William A. Jacobson, Cornell University law professor and founder of the Equal Protection Project. “There is no good form of racism, and the State of New York needs to stop this discrimination.”

The plaintiffs are Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY), Higher with Our Parent Engagement (HOPE), and the Inclusive Education Advocacy Group (IEAG), all groups of parents concerned about the growing use of race in school admissions, as well as Yiatin Chu, a NYC parent and education advocate.

The case is Chu, et al. v. Rosa, filed in the Northern District of New York.


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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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