Trump Reverses Obama-Era Policies On Affirmative Action

As Donald Trump moves to undo every last trace of Obama's legacy, the WSJ reported that on Tuesday, the Trump administration reversed Obama-era policies that encourage the use of race in college admissions "to promote diverse educational settings."  Instead, the Trump administration will encourage the nation’s school superintendents and college presidents to adopt race-blind admissions standards.

The reversal would restore the policy set during President George W. Bush’s administration, when officials told schools that it “strongly encourages the use of race-neutral methods” for admitting students to college or assigning them to elementary and secondary schools.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the official announcement Tuesday afternoon.

"The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them. When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President," Sessions said. "In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That's wrong, and it's not good government."

The decision comes amid a DOJ probe whether Harvard was illegally discriminating against Asian-American students by holding them to a higher standard in its admissions process. The administration revived the probe last year after Obama civil rights officials dismissed a similar complaint.

While the decision does not change current US law on affirmative action, it provides a strong illustration of the administration's position on an issue that could take on renewed attention with the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court.

The guidelines, which were issued jointly by the Obama Justice and Education departments, laid out legal recommendations for schools looking to use race as an admissions factor to boost diversity at their schools. Call it state-sponsored affirmative action. However, the WSJ reports that Trump admin officials will argue that the documents, published in 2011 and 2016, go beyond Supreme Court precedent on the issue and mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than what the law allows.

It is hardly a surprise that the Obama officials who implemented the policies disagree: Anurima Bargava, who headed civil rights enforcement in schools under Obama’s DOJ, disagreed with that assessment, saying the documents simply offered guidelines to schools and colleges looking to continue using affirmative action legally; she countered by attacking the current administration’s action as signaling that it doesn’t favor racial diversity.

“The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity,” she said. “This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody.”

Then again, perhaps the guidelines were not that innocent, and come as a 2014 lawsuit is unfolding in federal court against Harvard, filed by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, which alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted. It is expected to go to trial in October.

In the bigger picture, the action to rescind Obama-era guidelines comes at a rather sensitive time for the nation, just as Trump is set to appoint a new SCOUT judge, and is also likely to inflame a long-running national debate over the role of race in college admissions, an sensitive issue the U.S. Supreme Court has revisited on several occasions since the 1970s.

In 2016, the high court reaffirmed the practice in a 4-3 decision, but in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door open to future legal challenges by saying universities must continue to review their affirmative-action policies to assess their positive and negative effects.

Kennedy has since announced his retirement, and advocates on both sides say his successor, to be nominated soon by President Donald Trump, may take a different view on the practice as the Harvard case wends its way through the courts.

As such, the motive behind the process to undo one of Obama's core legacies may be to serve as a litmus test by the Trump administration to gauge just how conservative Kennedy's replacement will be, especially since the affirmative action guidelines are relatively innocuous.

Meanwhile, Harvard has previously objected to the lawsuit, claiming its admissions process is consistent with the legal precedents set over the past 40 years by the Supreme Court, which have allowed universities to consider race as a factor in admissions to obtain the benefits of a diverse student body.

But the plaintiffs suing Harvard said in court filings the school displayed a “stunning failure to take the elementary steps required by the law” to achieve diversity without taking race into account, such as considering applicants’ socioeconomic backgrounds, eliminating early admissions and increasing community college transfers.

And here is where Asian students felt cheated: as the WSJ reports, in court filings published last month as part of its continuing litigation, the university revealed that Asian-American applicants on average had higher academic marks and received higher scores from alumni interviews than other racial groups. But on a “personal” score that admissions officers used to gauge applicants’ character, Asian students scored the lowest.

Whatever the outcome of the challenge, it is inevitable that the aggrieved social grouping, whether conservatives or liberals, will allege that this is another example of racism escalating to dominate ever more aspects of daily life, at a time when social, racial, ethnic and wealth polarization in the US is already nearing its breaking point.



DownWithYogaPants Newsboy Tue, 07/03/2018 - 18:07 Permalink

Cryptopithicus Homme  Cman5000 Tue, 07/03/2018 - 17:58 Permalink

Now they're really gonna freak... "education" now just means "left wing culture club".  It says nothing of your intelligence, aptitude or capacity to learn.

Slight mod: It says something ......just nothing good.  It means you are mentally defective if you are a lefty.  Just remember lefties are not liberals. They do not believe in free speech for example.

In reply to by Newsboy

FireBrander 1982xls Tue, 07/03/2018 - 18:18 Permalink

Colleges all White.

Prisons all Black and Brown.

Racism? Really? As a White Male, and therefore automatically a racist, I can spot an Asian just as easily as I can spot a Hispanic or Black...yet I can't seem to hold down those Asians; and imprisoning way.

In reply to by 1982xls

ZIRPdiggler nmewn Tue, 07/03/2018 - 21:25 Permalink

A Harvard education does not carry the weight it once did, anyways. It has become a punchline. When I think of these 'ivy league' schools now, I don't conjure up elite minds, I conjure up the image of the rainbow EEOC equality poster at the fuckin post office that is emblazoned with each token face for the race lol. It reminds me of modern day corporate advertising where you see commercials of white woman, black man, mixed kids, whooping it up with the latino neighbors. what the fuck world do these agenda planners live in?  Not my world. I'd be willing to bet that if you asked the same question of my black colleagues at my job, they would call bullshit on that too.

In reply to by nmewn

nmewn ZIRPdiggler Tue, 07/03/2018 - 21:43 Permalink

Yes, I think they would. 

To my mind what they're doing in "universities of higher learning" these days is indoctrination, be it keynesian economics or Marxism or statist control concepts which incorporate elements of all. 

Personally, I think the left doesn't "really care" about minority races or cultures (black/white/red/yellow doesn't matter) it's more of a "We can say we care to keep them off our backs while we actually implement our intent but we don't really care." more of a thing. 

They can't possibly really care after they look back over what the Great Society has done to the black family unit (or the poor white family unit, for that matter) and not be embarrassed. It's observably intentional and it's methodical.

What was once a place of "higher learning" where new ideas, concepts, ideologies and philosophies were expressed openly & debated firmly but respectfully without rancor have become a chorus of publicly funded (no less) STFU! and do, think and say as I believe or get out or be assaulted.  

Which really is, Marxist-statist at it's core...controlled, self-reinforcing, group-think. 

In reply to by ZIRPdiggler

NidStyles nmewn Tue, 07/03/2018 - 23:35 Permalink

So I go to the Woodman’s get frogged and watch some dude try to bully a girl into sleeping with someone else. Go out to my car and someone had broken into it.


Not an apple

He’s neither a machine or a piece of property Schlomo. He’s not the person that needs to change. He was perfectly fine before you started meddling.

 Not interested in men either, never was.


In reply to by nmewn

Americano NidStyles Wed, 07/04/2018 - 02:05 Permalink


But I’m afraid it matters in the real world. A degree from one of HYPSM means higher pay.  Companies view them as more valuable than their peers, including other Ivies, because of their powerful alumni network alone. 


My kid’s BFF got rejected at all 8 Ivies this year and was “only” admitted to UCLA & Berkeley. She’s a stellar student and even more amazing person but unfortunately, her parents are white. And so is she.  So these “elite” institutions all turned her down. But her HS is sending 6 black and Hispanic kids to Harvard, Princeton, Yale & Stanford. And none of them are in top 10% of their graduating class. 



In reply to by NidStyles

Muppet Americano Wed, 07/04/2018 - 13:17 Permalink

Same. Daughter is an amazing (white) student.  Ended HS with 34 ACT, GPA > 4, 9 AP classes.  Applied to 12 top schools.

Not one admission.

Thought about Hillsdale but joined UW Madison.  Did ROTC and 5 weeks Basic at Ft Knox.  Straight A's keeping quiet her conservative views.  Interns at DOJ.  Hopes to join FBI or DoD. She's old school sensible but a diversity choice.

In reply to by Americano

Cloud9.5 apocalypticbrother Wed, 07/04/2018 - 06:52 Permalink

Confucius introduced the concept of a meritocracy 2,500 years ago in China.  Stringent competition still exists among Chinese students with parents focusing every resource on getting their child in the best school possible.  What is interesting is that you cannot find a single image of Confucius in any of the souvenir shops in Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong.  The legacy lives on but the memory of the man has gone extinct.

In reply to by apocalypticbrother

Umh Cloud9.5 Wed, 07/04/2018 - 14:24 Permalink

Many things attributed to Confucius were tacked onto his legacy over the centuries.
No contemporary painting or sculpture of Confucius survives, and it was only during the Han Dynasty that he was portrayed visually. Carvings often depict his legendary meeting with Laozi. Since that time there have been many portraits of Confucius as the ideal philosopher. The oldest known portrait of Confucius has been unearthed in the tomb of the Han dynasty ruler Marquis of Haihun (died 59 BC). The picture was painted on the wooden frame to a polished bronze mirror.

In former times, it was customary to have a portrait in Confucius Temples; however, during the reign of Hongwu Emperor (Taizu) of the Ming dynasty, it was decided that the only proper portrait of Confucius should be in the temple in his home town, Qufu in Shandong. In other temples, Confucius is represented by a memorial tablet.

In reply to by Cloud9.5

pparalegal Frito Wed, 07/04/2018 - 05:33 Permalink

You reminded me of a certain minority UCSD graduate that I had to teach how to compose and write a coherent sentence and paragraph. After about three months I finally got most of the Ebonics (and structure) out of his written words to the court and DA's office.

In reply to by Frito

MoreFreedom chubbar Wed, 07/04/2018 - 09:03 Permalink

Put it into law with some teeth and enforcement.

Better would be just to separate school and state, and end government subsidies and favors to universities.   I'd rather not have the government telling schools how to do their admissions, or any other business for that matter.  A free market in education would do wonders to end the lefty school bias. 

Evergreen and Burlington colleges suffer under liberal/socialist mentality.  Evergreen has seen it's enrollment decimated after parents saw how they're stifling free speech.  And Bernie Sanders' wife put Burlington out of its misery by bankrupting it (while holding a big salary).  That's the way of free markets.

In reply to by chubbar