Donald Trump

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The Justice Department wants to investigate, sue universities over ‘white discrimination’

Affirmative action is the Trump administration's latest target.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Aug 2, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 9:57 pm CDT

President Donald Trump‘s administration is planning to use Justice Department civil rights resources to investigate and possibly sue universities with affirmative action admissions policies, according to the New York Times.

In an internal announcement obtained by the Times, the project calls for lawyers interested in “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” The project appears to be run out of the department’s civil rights division instead of the Educational Opportunities Section, putting the project in the hands of Trump’s political appointees over career civil servants.

Though the document doesn’t specify which groups the Justice Department deems have been discriminated against through these policies, the term “intentional race-based discrimination” appears to directly target programs used to increase university admissions of minority students.

The Supreme Court previously upheld affirmative action policies in the 2016 case of Fisher v. University of Texas, with Justice Kennedy writing in the court’s decision that student body diversity was central to the identity and educational mission of a university.

Roger Clegg, a former top official in the Reagan and first Bush administrations and the current president of conservative group Center for Equal Opportunity, told the Times that he thought the project was “long overdue” considering the increasing diversity of the United States. He also alleged that white people were beginning to experience discrimination themselves, an argument at the heart of affirmative action debates. Statistically, however, it is white women have benefitted the most from affirmative action policies.

Upon the news Tuesday evening, commentators online expressed their disagreement with the Justice Department’s upcoming project, asserting that it played into unfounded and debunked ideas held by white Americans that minority groups receive widespread preferential treatment and financial assistance for college because of their race.

Kristen Clarke, president of liberal group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Law, criticized the Department Justices’ project, and noted that the civil rights division was created specifically to address “discrimination faced by our nation’s most oppressed minority groups.”

“This is deeply disturbing,” Clarke told the Times. “It would be a dog whistle that could invite a lot of chaos and unnecessarily create hysteria among colleges and universities who may fear that the government may come down on them for their efforts to maintain diversity on their campuses.”

H/T Jezebel

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*First Published: Aug 2, 2017, 9:06 am CDT