The Justice and Education Departments teamed up to take out seven race-based admission documents on Tuesday.
Department of Education (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus and Department of Justice (DOJ) Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore rescinded the Obama-era racial admission documents in a joint statement.
“The documents prematurely decide, or appear to decide, whether particular actions violate the Constitution or federal law,” Marcus and Gore said. “By suggesting to public schools, as well as recipients of federal funding, that they take action or refrain from taking action beyond plain legal requirements, the documents are inconsistent with governing principles for agency guidance documents.”
Among the documents the officials rescinded were the 2011, 2013 and 2014 “Dear Colleague” letters on the use of race to achieve diversity. A few of the documents addressed the 2013 and 2016 iterations of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case in which a white female applied for and was denied admission to the Texas school, which used an affirmative action policy.
“Fisher II reaffirms that institutions of higher education have a compelling interest in pursuing the educational benefits that flow to all students from student body diversity,” the guidance on Fisher II asserts. “Moreover, the decision clarifies that universities are to be afforded ‘[c]onsiderable deference … in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.'”
The rescissions occur amid a lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard University, claiming that the institution discriminates against Asian-American applicants. The plaintiff alleged that the Ivy League university routinely docked Asian-American candidates on the basis of their personality in early June. (RELATED: Harvard Docked Asian American Applicants For Personality, Lawsuit Alleges)
“The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are Constitutional, and the Court’s written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue,” DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a press release. “Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law.”
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