Trump administration rescinds Obama-era guidance on race and college admissions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at an event in Reno Nev. on June 25

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at an event in Reno Nev. on June 25

President Donald Trump's administration is planning to undo policies that would encourage race as a factor in college admissions, according to news reports.

The Trump administration's plan would scrap the existing policies and encourage schools not to consider race at all.

While the decision does not change current U.S. 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.

However Conservatives have said such programs can hurt white people and Asian-Americans.

In a contentious push away from a set of Obama-era policies meant to promote diversity on college campuses, the Trump administration is urging universities to adopt race-blind approaches to the admissions process. She said the announcement underscored the stakes surrounding the upcoming Supreme Court appointment.

The department this year sided with Asian-American plaintiffs suing Harvard University who argue that the school unlawfully limits how many of Asian students are admitted. In 2016, the court, in an opinion written by Kennedy, granted affirmative action policies a narrow victory by permitting race to be among the factors considered in the college admission process.

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Harvard says its admissions policies comply with us laws and that it has worked to boost financial aid to ensure economic, as well as racial, diversity in its classes.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld - though with an increasingly narrow view - the practice of considering race as a factor in order to ensure minorities are integrated at elite United States educational institutions.

The Trump administration contends that the Obama-era guidelines go far beyond what the Supreme Court has decided on in regard to affirmative action. In 2007, the high court sharply limited how school districts could use race in enrollment.The ruling struck down race-based policies in Seattle and Louisville.

The Trump administration's Justice Department had already signaled concern about the use of race in admissions decisions.

Students for Fair Admissions alleges that Harvard's rating system is stacked against Asian-Americans who tend to score lower on evaluations of personal traits, such as likability, even though their tests scores may be higher than those of other applicants and they participate in many extracurricular activities.

Her former colleague, Anurima Bhargava, who was head of the department's civil rights enforcement under Obama, was cited by the Wall Street Journal as saying: "The law on this hasn't changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity". "It would be wise to consider if their use of race is likely to be something that the courts of the future will be likely to uphold", Clegg 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".

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