Written by DML
The New York Times put out an eye-catching story on Tuesday night which is sure to dominate the headlines Wednesday.
According to The New York Times, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department’s civil rights division are revving up to investigate and go after American universities whose affirmative action admissions policies are discriminatory against white applicants.
The New York Times obtained an internal document that seeks lawyers within the DOJ who would be interested in participating in “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
The Times writes, “The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.”
The Times also reports that the memo does not mention the race of college applicants that may be at risk of discrimination, but it does highlight the phrase used in the memo, which is “intentional race-based discrimination.”
Affirmative action programs aim to recruit more minority students to the student body.
Many colleges and universities push admissions programs that give black and Latino students a massive advantage over white applicants with comparable or higher test scores.
The Times claims the DOJ declined to provide a comment for the story. However, they did get a comment from Roger Clegg, a former top official in the civil rights division during the Reagan and George Bush administrations. Clegg now serves as the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity. He called the project a “welcome” and “long overdue” development.
The Times writes, “He also suggested that the project would look for stark gaps in test scores and dropout rates among different racial cohorts within student bodies, which he said would be evidence suggesting that admissions offices were putting too great an emphasis on applicants’ race and crossing the line the Supreme Court has drawn.”
Through one of my contacts in DC, I knew this DOJ program was in action well before The Times received the internal document. As a result, I ran a poll on DML Monday asking readers if they thought “whites’ were treated unfairly. Overwhelmingly, the answer was ‘yes.’ You can participate in the poll, and see the results by clicking here.
ABOUT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Affirmative action, also known as reservation in India and Nepal, positive discrimination in the UK, and employment equity (in a narrower context) in Canada and South Africa, is the policy of favoring members of a disadvantaged group who suffer or have suffered from discrimination within a culture.Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has sought to achieve goals such as bridging inequalities in employment and pay, increasing access to education, promoting diversity, and redressing apparent past wrongs, harms, or hindrances.
The nature of affirmative action policies varies from region to region. Some countries, such as India, use a quota system, whereby a certain percentage of government jobs, political positions, and school vacancies must be reserved for members of a certain group. In some other regions where quotas are not used, minority group members are given preference or special consideration in selection processes. In the United States, affirmative action in employment and education has been the subject of legal and political controversy, and in 2003, a pair of US Supreme Court decisions (Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger) permitted educational institutions to consider race as a factor when admitting students while prohibiting the use of quotas. In other countries, such as the UK,affirmative action is rendered illegal because it does not treat all races equally. This approach to equal treatment is described as being “color blind.” In such countries, the focus tends to be on ensuring equal opportunity and, for example, targeted advertising campaigns to encourage ethnic minority candidates to join the police force. This is sometimes described as “positive action.”
Affirmative Action In the Unites States of America
The concept of affirmative action was introduced in the early 1960s in the United States, as a way to combat racial discrimination in the hiring process, with the concept later expanded to address gender discrimination. Affirmative action was first created from Executive Order 10925, which was signed by President John F. Kennedy on 6 March 1961 and required that government employers “not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin” and “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin”.
On 24 September 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246, thereby replacing Executive Order 10925 and affirming Federal Government’s commitment “to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each executive department and agency”. Affirmative action was extended to women by Executive Order 11375 which amended Executive Order 11246 on 13 October 1967, by adding “sex” to the list of protected categories. In the U.S. affirmative action’s original purpose was to pressure institutions into compliance with the nondiscrimination mandate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Acts do not cover veterans, people with disabilities, or people over 40. These groups are protected from discrimination under different laws.
Affirmative action has been the subject of numerous court cases, and has been questioned upon its constitutional legitimacy. In 2003, a Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action in higher education (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 US 244 – Supreme Court 2003) permitted educational institutions to consider race as a factor when admitting students. Alternatively, some colleges use financial criteria to attract racial groups that have typically been under-represented and typically have lower living conditions. Some states such as California (California Civil Rights Initiative), Michigan (Michigan Civil Rights Initiative), and Washington (Initiative 200) have passed constitutional amendments banning public institutions, including public schools, from practicing affirmative action within their respective states. Conservative activists have alleged that colleges quietly use illegal quotas to increase the number of minorities and have launched numerous lawsuits to stop them.
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