The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it has rescinded guidance documents which counseled colleges and universities on how to deal with federal law and court decisions regarding the consideration of race in the college admissions process. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the guidance documents “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”
In making the announcement Sessions said that “when issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President. 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.”
Some of the documents issued guidelines on how colleges and universities could continue to consider race in their admissions decisions while conforming with rulings made by the Supreme Court.
Colleges and universities are still free to consider race in their admission decisions. But the Trump administration is putting them on notice that they will be watched carefully to make sure that the use of race is “narrowly tailored.”
The Trump administration is supporting litigation filed by Asian students who claim they were discriminated in the admissions process at Harvard, so the prospect of further challenges to existing programs may be forthcoming. This will be especially true if the person filling Justice Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court opposes race-sensitive admissions policies.