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Harvard Yard. Photo: Getty Images

A lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s admissions practices — claiming discrimination against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard — will head to trial in a Boston federal court on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could have far-reaching consequences in college admissions at a time when the country’s polarized climate continues to stoke racial and political divisions.

The details: Officials, alumni, and students from the Ivy League school will take the stand to examine the admissions policies. Harvard, one of the most selective universities in the world, had said it does not discriminate but instead uses race as one of many factors to build classes of diverse backgrounds.

  • The case was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit group known for orchestrating legal challenges to affirmative action practices and voting rights laws in recent years.

What they're saying: Asian-Americans are divided on the case. Some, including groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said they are being used by conservatives as a wedge to abolish affirmative action.

  • Edward Blum, the head of Students for Fair Admissions, told the Washington Post: "The cornerstone mission of [my] organization is to eliminate the use of race and ethnicity in college admissions. Period. We make no bones about that."
  • The case drew support from the Trump Justice Department, which has filed a statement of interest in the challenge, and has also recently opened inquiries into complaints of discrimination against Asian-Americans at Harvard and Yale.

The big picture: This could be a landmark case that might reach the Supreme Court, which upheld a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. In that case, a white student whom Blum recruited to sue the university said she was discriminated against because of her race and UT's affirmative action policies.

Go deeper: The cracks in the college admissions system.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Bolton lauds Barr for standing up to Trump

John Bolton. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

John Bolton says Attorney General Bill Barr has done more to undercut President Trump's baseless assertions about Democrats stealing the election than most Senate Republicans by saying publicly that the Justice Department has yet to see widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

What he's saying: “He stood up and did the right thing," Bolton said in a Wednesday phone interview.

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