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Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

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  1. Court Access

Case Number: 1:14-cv-14176-ADB

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Boston Division

Client: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Motion to Intervene and Unseal Filed: Dec. 7, 2022

Background: In October 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a challenge to affirmative action that could dramatically change admissions policies at institutions of higher education.

The case, Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, is one of the most high-profile cases of the Court’s term. But substantial portions of the trial record in the case remain under seal. As the public awaits the justices’ ruling, the federal district court where the case originated is now considering how much of the sealed material should be made public.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion to intervene in the case to assert the rights of the press and public to access sealed judicial records in the matter, including transcripts of the sidebar proceedings held during trial.

In the motion, Reporters Committee attorneys request that the court order the parties to justify their secrecy interests in public filings and allow the public and press to respond in writing. They also ask the court to set a hearing on the merits during which the press and public can be heard, alongside the parties.

Quote: “The public deserves a full and fair opportunity to challenge the secrecy the parties seek in this case, and neither party will be prejudiced by a process that provides the public that chance.”

Update: On Dec. 19, 2022, the district court denied the Reporters Committee’s motion to intervene. The Reporters Committee then appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.


2022-12-07: Motion to intervene and unseal

2023-01-19: Petition for writ of mandamus

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