US Government Threatens to Unwind Affirmative Action at Universities

 Harvard University. The US supreme court has ruled that universities may use affirmative action in their admissions policies. Photograph: Lisa Poole/AP
Harvard University. The US supreme court has ruled that universities may use affirmative action in their admissions policies. Photograph: Lisa Poole/AP

Justice Department memo seeks lawyers to work on litigation related to ‘intentional race-based discrimination’ against white applicants, says report


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “US government threat to unwind affirmative action at universities” was written by Guardian staff and agencies, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 2nd August 2017 04.19 UTC

The US Justice Department is planning to investigate and possibly sue universities over admissions policies that discriminate against white applicants, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a department document.

The internal memo seeks lawyers in the department’s civil rights division who are interested in working on a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions”, the Times reported.

The document suggested the project would be run out of a part of the civil right division where its political appointees work, rather than the educational opportunities section, which is devoted to handling cases involving universities and is run by career civil servants, said the Times.

While the document does not explicitly identify whom the department considers at risk of discrimination, the Times suggested the use of the phrase “intentional race-based discrimination” signalled that programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses were in the sights.

The US supreme court has ruled that universities may use affirmative action admissions policies, which are intended to give minority applicants an edge in getting into college. The court has rejected racial quotas but said race could be used as one factor among many in evaluating an applicant.

Critics of affirmative action say that in some cases it goes too far in discriminating against white and Asian American applicants.

A Justice Department spokesman told Reuters the department would not comment on personnel matters.

Reuters contributed to this report

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