President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday rescinded Obama-era guidelines on how colleges should use students’ race in their admission decisions, changing the landscape of the fight over affirmative action and the role of race in how colleges select students.
In a letter released by the Department of Education Civil Rights Division, the DOE and the Department of Justice announced they were withdrawing a series of statements issued by the Obama administration between 2011 and 2016 that “purport to explain the legal framework that governs the use of race by elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools under the Constitution…
“The Departments have reviewed the documents and have concluded that they advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution, Title IV, and Title VI,” the letter states.
“Moreover, the documents prematurely decide, or appear to decide, whether particular actions violate the Constitution or federal law. By suggesting to public schools, as well as recipients of federal funding, that they take action or refrain from taking action beyond plain legal requirements, the documents are inconsistent with governing principles for agency guidance documents.”
The Trump administration’s move was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
And liberals were complaining before the new policy even became public.
“The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity,” Obama Justice Department official Anurima Bhargava, who led civil rights enforcement, told WSJ. “This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody.”
Actually, it’s a pretty good chance it’s going to benefit one party in a lawsuit that was just filed over affirmative action in college admissions, and how it might adversely affect the prospects of Asian students.
The Trump administration move comes amid a lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard University in June, alleging that the institution discriminates against Asian American applicants. The plaintiff asserted that the Ivy League university regularly docked Asian American candidates on the basis of their personality.
The Supreme Court has revisited race-based college admissions multiple times since the 1970s. The court upheld affirmative action by a 4-3 vote in 2016, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing in the majority opinion that colleges must constantly review the “positive and negative” results of their affirmative action policies.
With Kennedy having announced his resignation from the court last week, a new justice could be in place by the time the court opens its next session in October.
And that makes the future look difficult for proponents of the Obama-era race-conscious approach to college admissions.
The Education Department did not respond immediately to Daily Caller request for comment.
However, conservative groups were trumpeting the news.
“The Obama guidance in this area was bad law and bad policy, and it’s good news if it is indeed being withdrawn,” Center for Equal Opportunity president Roger Clegg said in a news release.
“Being opposed to racial preferences is not being against diversity, which is what the critics will claim: It’s simply being against discrimination. The federal government should not be going out of its way to encourage such discrimination, which is what the Obama guidance did.”
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