White House to Ditch Obama Affirmative Action Guidelines

The action comes amid a high-profile court fight over admission at Harvard University as well as Supreme Court turnover expected to produce a more critical eye toward schools' affirmative action policies. Trump could soon stake out a formal position opposing Harvard's practices, specialists in college admissions predicted Tuesday.

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On Tuesday, Harvard and other universities were defiant in defending their admissions policies as legal.

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. "This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody".

But now, Kennedy is retired, Donald Trump is president - and the federal government has repealed Obama's guidance, and replaced it with a plea for all educational institutions to use "race-neutral methods for assigning students to elementary and secondary schools". "The world that today's students are going to be thriving in is diverse, interconnected, and global".

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college. Blum said Tuesday the organization "welcomes any governmental actions that will eliminate racial classifications and preferences in college admissions". That will offer the Trump administration an opportunity to pick a judge who favors race-blind admissions policies, experts said. In recent years, the court has restricted when race can be used. However, Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which opposes affirmative action, said universities should carefully consider whether their practices are likely to be upheld. "We still have all of the Supreme Court rulings that would influence how we handle this".

AB: The law has not changed.


Having Obama guidelines on the books that support the use of race to diversify campuses when the Trump administration feels differently would be awkward, he said. The Obama guidance itself was a revision of a 2008 Bush administration directive that called racial classifications "highly suspect" and concluded that their use in admissions decisions was "impermissible unless they are "narrowly tailored" to meet a "compelling governmental interest".

Outside parties will be filing briefs in the Harvard case in the coming weeks.

Civil liberties groups immediately decried the move, saying it went against decades of court rulings that permit colleges and universities to take race into account. In April, the department, headed by Betsy DeVos, implemented new guidelines that allowed civil rights investigations to be closed if they were considered "too burdensome " to investigate.

The policy represents the official view of the federal government and schools that do not follow it could face action from the Justice Department or lose federal funding, it said.

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.

'This guidance restated the law and our national commitment to diversity.


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