The Trump administration Department of Justice is preparing to use funding from the agency’s civil rights division to investigate whether affirmative action policies in university admissions intentionally discriminate against qualified applicants in an effort to fill race quotas.
That’s according to a report out Wednesday from The New York Times based on a document obtained by the paper (emphasis added):
The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.
The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.
Supporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.
Plenty of people argue that the move is long overdue as regulations originally intended to ensure that everyone has a fair shake in the college admission process are now stacking the odds against white and Asian students in many cases.
And it’s about more than just who gets into what colleges. Private schools that refuse to adhere to government affirmative action demands can be barred from accepting government subsidized student loans and Pell Grants to help some students pay for tuition costs. As I wrote about the conservative Hillsdale College back in 2012:
In the 1970s, the college made certain that liberal indoctrination on behalf of the status-quo Federal bureaucracy would never creep into its halls. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare set out to interfere with Hillsdale admissions policy during that period on the pretext that the school received Federal money in the form of student loans and financial aid. The Federal agency demanded that the college adopt an affirmative action admissions policy despite the fact that it was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion or sex, and became an early force for the abolition of slavery. It was also the second college in the Nation to grant four-year liberal arts degrees to women. Because the government’s unConstitutional mandate would make the college subject its admission roster to levels of discrimination that it had never before practiced, Hillsdale’s trustees responded with two resolutions:
- The College would continue its policy of non-discrimination.
- “With the help of God,” it would “resist, by all legal means, any encroachments on its independence.”
A decade of litigation ensued; and in 1984, the Supreme Court ruled against Hillsdale, saying it was indeed subject to bureaucratic mandates. The college announced that rather than comply with unConstitutional Federal regulation, it would no longer accept Federal taxpayer money to pay student tuition. In 2007, the school also rejected any tuition assistance funded by the State of Michigan, instead opting to aid students who need financial help with private contributions.
Of course, the left is using the move to potentially rethink affirmative action as “proof” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions President Donald Trump hate minorities.
From The Hill:
Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights group, called the news a “new low” for the Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“It’s repulsive and perverse that affirmative action has now found its main adversary in the very arm of DOJ meant to advance progress on civil rights: the Civil Rights Division,” Lambda Legal’s CEO Rachel Tiven said in a statement.
“We are appalled but not surprised by this continued assault on civil rights, and Jeff Sessions’ determination to sully the reputation of the Department of Justice.”
The ACLU weighed in, saying: “The idea that the Justice Department would sue colleges over their inclusive policies is an affront to fairness and sends a dangerous signal that it will no longer work to protect the most vulnerable.”
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