Trump Administration To Undo Efforts To Boost College Racial Diversity

"It is more evidence that the Trump administration is skeptical about race-based decision-making in admissions and in other contexts".

The policy, enacted by President Barack Obama's Justice and Education departments in 2011 and 2016, focused on providing legal guidance to colleges that wanted to include race as a factor in the admission process. This wasn't necssarily at odds with Court precedent, but it very well could have sent a message to schools that diversity at all costs was the top priority.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the official announcement that 24 guidance documents had been revoked, on Tuesday, according to CNN. He noted that administrative guidance does not carry the legal weight of court rulings or statutes enacted by Congress.

In addition to those guidances, the Justice Department pulled 17 other policy directives it deemed "unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper".

The Obama guidelines were a departure from previous recommendations from the administration of Republican President George W. Bush, who encouraged race neutral admissions policies.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the changes an effort to restore the "rule of law", though civil rights groups decried the move and some universities said they meant to continue their diversity efforts as before.

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The Trump administration is also likely preparing to oppose Harvard's admissions policies in a lawsuit that was filed by the Students for Fair Admissions claiming that the Ivy League university's race-based policies hurt Asian-American applicants, Clegg said.

The Supreme Court in 2016 gave affirmative action policies a narrow victory in 2016 by upholding a University of Texas program that takes into account race in deciding whom to admit. The documents, which were jointly-released by the departments of justice and education, also argued that colleges and universities had a "compelling interest" in "obtaining the benefits that flow from achieving a diverse student body", and outlined the options colleges could take under law in pursuit of that goal.

Traditionally a "swing" vote between the court's liberal and conservative camps, Kennedy wrote the opinion in Fisher but it's unlikely any future Trump appointee to the court would vote the same way the next time a similar case reaches the court. They were not making up new law and were more of a resource for schools to use as they established student assignment plans and admissions policies.

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

The high court has been generally accepting of considering race in admissions decisions to achieve diversity. With Trump expected to announce his nominee next week, the issue should be a central part of any confirmation process, said Howard University law school dean Danielle Holley-Walker.

"People have been talking about precedent in regard to Roe. v. Wade" - the landmark 1973 ruling affirming a woman's right to abortion - "but it's important to remember that affirmative action has been a precedent for the past 40 years", she said. We have a Supreme Court that in recent years has been active in giving directives and direction to colleges and universities about what they can or cannot do.

  • Sonia Alvarado