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Trump Administration to Target Affirmative Action Policies

by Countable | 8.2.17

What’s the story?

The civil rights division of the Department of Justice is preparing to redirect resources toward investigating, and possibly suing, universities over affirmative action policies that are seen to discriminate against white applicants. This news comes from an internal memo obtained by the New York Times. The document seeks current lawyers who are interested in a project on "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions."


Why does it matter?

Though the memo doesn’t explicitly state who is being hurt by "intentional race-based discrimination," the purpose of affirmative action is to give non-white applicants an edge and bring more diversity to campus. Also, based on the memo, it would seem the project will be run out of the DOJ’s civil rights division, where Trump administration appointees work, rather than the Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants. This could signal another conservative shift to the department by Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Just last week, the DOJ ruled that a federal civil rights law doesn’t protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.

While the Supreme Court has rejected racial quotas, they said race could be used as a factor in evaluating college applicants.


What can you do?

Where do you come down on the issue? Do you agree with the Congressional Black Caucus, who tweeted: "Sessions wants to put more people of color in jail and take away their educational opportunities." Or, with Roger Clegg, a former official in the civil rights division during the Reagan and Bush administration, who feels this shift is “welcome” and “long overdue”? Let your reps -- who confirm DOJ appointees -- know how you feel. Same with your college campus. Let your voice be heard.

--Josh Herman

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/78/StellenboschStudentMarch.jpg

(Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes via flickr)

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