Trump to rescind Obama-era guidance on affirmative action

05 July, 2018, 04:19 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Trump administration to rollback Obama-era college admission guidelines on race

On Tuesday, the departments of Justice and Education announced that they have retracted documents that advised schools on how they could legally consider race in admissions and other decisions. A Justice Department spokesman said an announcement was imminent. "Students should be able to go to a school without regard to their skin color or what country their ancestors came from", he said. Separately, the Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation of Harvard admissions.

The administration's decision comes as a federal lawsuit questioning admissions policies moves forward against Harvard University by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative-backed not-for-profit led by Edward Blum, who most recently challenged affirmative action at the Supreme Court level in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in 2016.

The Obama administration memos encouraging schools to take race into account were among 24 policy documents revoked by the Justice Department for being "unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper".

The Trump administration is advising schools to avoid using race in admissions decisions.

That guidance has now been rescinded, as have about a half-dozen similar documents, including some that sought to explain court rulings affirming the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions.

"The Trump administration isn't just willfully blind to the reality of systemic racism - it's coldly indifferent to its destructive consequences, and it's absolutely committed to dismantling any efforts to address our nation's original sin", Democratic National Committe Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

The university denies wrongdoing and says its methods - weighing race and ethnicity as one factor among many in a review of an applicant's background and credentials - conform to decades of settled law.

Eight states already prohibit the use of race in public college admissions: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

MJ: How does this action compare to what other Republican administrations have done in the past?

Even with Kennedy on the court, affirmative action faced an uncertain future.

The impact on college practices remains to be seen.

"We need to learn more specifically what the implications of this reported change in policies means for higher education and in particular for our institution", Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, the chief diversity officer at Whitworth University, said in an email.

"When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President", Mr. Sessions said in a statement. "It isn't shocking that guidance would be withdrawn", he said.

The court's most recent significant ruling on the subject endorsed colleges' use of race among many factors in the admission process. These guidances were not talking about court-ordered desegregation or something like that. "We still have all of the Supreme Court rulings that would influence how we handle this".


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