Report: Justice Department will target Affirmative Action

DOJ head, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (front) with his Deputy Attorney General  Rod Rosenstein.

DOJ head, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (front) with his Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Justice Department is reportedly exploring the idea of suing colleges over their affirmative action policies in admissions. On Tuesday, the New York Times published a story that cited an “internal announcement to the civil rights division seeking attorneys to work on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” And that, “the Trump administration is preparing to redirect DOJ resources toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”

Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program, had this reaction:

“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. It would mark an alarming shift in direction that threatens the hard-fought progress made by civil rights advocates and the department itself over the past decades. The Supreme Court has made it clear that it is constitutional to appropriately consider race as one of many factors in college admissions. We will be monitoring closely.”

DOJ Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores refuted the report in a statement Wednesday evening, saying “Press reports regarding the personnel posting in the Civil Rights Division have been inaccurate. The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior administration left unresolved.”

“The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans in a university’s admissions policy and practices. This Department of Justice has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general. The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination,” she said.

Flores also said, “This was a personnel posting. It does not reflect a new policy or program or any changes to long-standing DOJ policy. Whenever there’s a credible allegation of discrimination on the basis of race, the department will look into it,” a Justice Department official said.

The NAACP denounced the U.S. Department of Justice’s plans to investigate and sue higher education institutions whose admission policies promote the inclusion of people of color.

“President Trump’s Justice Department seems laser-focused on achieving rights and privileges for ‘just-us’; totally excluding people of color. It’s not enough that President Trump proposes to radically cut the 2018 education budget and undermine public schools, which would adversely affect African-Americans and his supporters alike, but now his Administration is preparing to investigate and prosecute colleges and universities that strive to admit more people of color.” said Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO. “Affirmative action was not created as a way for African-Americans, Latinos, or Asian-Americans to get an unfair advantage over their white peers. It’s a mechanism to level the playing field and create equal opportunity for people of color following decades of oppression. We should foster efforts to promote diversity on college and university campuses not hinder it.”