In an opinion today, Judge Ramos denied a motion to preliminary enjoin recent changes to the admissions process for New York City’s eight elite, specialized schools, which generally admit students based solely on a highly competitive test. Last summer, the City announced modified the criteria somewhat to set aside a larger proportion of each class for disadvantaged students, with the aim of creating greater diversity.

The challengers alleged that the changes discriminate against Asian-Americans, but Judge Ramos, in denying a preliminary injunction, found that they were unlikely to succeed on that claim:

Plaintiffs rely upon statements by the DOE and Defendants lauding how the program changes will increase Black and Latino enrollment at the specialized schools . . . . They therefore allege that this amounts to discriminatory intent that, coupled with disparate impact, constitutes racial discrimination warranting strict scrutiny.

This conclusion, however, requires one to accept the proposition that a facially neutral policy seeking to improve racial diversity necessarily carries with it a discriminatory intent. That is not the law. . . . As the Second Circuit explained . . . “to equate a ‘desire to eliminate the discriminatory impact’ on some disadvantaged groups with ‘an intent to discriminate against’ other groups ‘could seriously stifle attempts to remedy discrimination.’”