Trump to revoke Obama-era affirmative action guidance for school admissions

President Donald Trump looks toward Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as he speaks during a workforce  apprenticeship discussion at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster N.J. Friday Aug. 11 2017. Trump received an update on the the president's wor

Trump Administration to Rescind Obama Guidelines on Race in College Admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college.

Just after the news Tuesday, I spoke to Anurima Bhargava, who led civil rights enforcement in schools at the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, about how this move changes the landscape and why she's hopeful schools will still take race into consideration. But it is a further sign of the Trump administration's opposition. Supreme Court cases are brewing including a case involving an Asian student and the allegation that Harvard University created policies that made it harder for Asian students to be admitted as compared to Hispanic or black students.

Civil rights groups criticized the Trump administration's announcement, saying it went against decades of court precedent permitting colleges to take race into account. "President Trump has indicated he intends to appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court who will declare that affirmative action is unconstitutional in our schools".

The move, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the administration has thrown its weight behind a student group that accuses Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-Americans in its admissions process.

The rules under Obama, a Democrat, were issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education.

MJ: How does this action compare to what other Republican administrations have done in the past?

The impact on college practices remains to be seen.

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Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel of the American Council on Education, which represents college and university presidents, said he doubted schools would change their admission policies based exclusively on the announcement. "It isn't shocking that guidance would be withdrawn", he said.

But McDonough said the administration's action could have a "chilling effect" on colleges as they review their admission methods. They were not making up new law and were more of a resource for schools to use as they established student assignment plans and admissions policies.

That guidance has now been rescinded, as have more than a half-dozen other similar documents, including some that sought to explain Supreme Court rulings affirming the use of race as one of several factors in the admissions process.

The reversal doesn't change current USA law on affirmative action and doesn't affect how schools choose to operate within the confines of current Supreme Court precedent, but changes guidelines to more closely resemble a Bush-era document encouraging "race-neutral" methods of admitting students to elementary and secondary schools.

The new affirmative action guidance could add to an already contentious fight over the next justice.

"We're now looking at a post-Kennedy Supreme Court". That guidance also cautioned school officials that they should be careful when using race and that they could do so only in limited circumstances.

"They've obviously been looking at the case for nearly a year now", Clegg said. These guidances were not talking about court-ordered desegregation or something like that.

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