Obama-era guidance meant to boost college admissions diversity will now be dialed back under the Trump administration, the Education Department and Justice Department confirmed in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
While the Supreme Court has affirmed the practice of affirmative action a couple of times, the issue could be revisited if Trump's Supreme Court nominee views the practice differently than his predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
As news of the Trump administration's directive to rescind affirmative action policies made by President Barack Obama was announced on Tuesday, Black Twitter went online to share their frustrations with Trump-as well as their lack of surprise. "But by telling schools and universities that they should not use affirmative action to achieve inclusive classrooms, the Education Department has again failed our students", NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement.
The Trump administration "could just be rescinding the Obama-era polices", Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told Fox News.
The Justice investigation has also drawn a strong rebuke from numerous organizations representing minority groups, which argue that this is a step toward doing away with affirmative action altogether.
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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. It was one of the largest joint actions ever taken by Asian-American organisations in pursuit of equal education rights.
The Trump administration's action was put in motion with a letter from Kenneth Marcus, assistant education secretary for civil rights, and John Gore, acting assistant attorney general. 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. Federal prosecutors will investigate and sue universities over discriminatory admissions policies, he said.
"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 happens all the time across administrative units".
The new affirmative action guidance could add to an already contentious fight over the next justice.
That will offer the Trump administration an opportunity to pick a judge who favors race-blind admissions policies, experts said.
"As the Supreme Court has recognized", one of the documents states, "diversity has benefits for all students, and today's students must be prepared to succeed in a diverse society and an increasingly global workforce". But she said it will have no impact on laws that govern school integration and admissions, nor will it affect the hundreds of schools under desegregation orders. A Justice Department spokesman said an announcement was imminent.