Trump administration is breaking from Obama-era affirmative action policies

BOOTHVILLE LA- MAY 21 Members of the 2008 graduating class of South Plaquemines High School wait for the start of their commencement

BOOTHVILLE LA- MAY 21 Members of the 2008 graduating class of South Plaquemines High School wait for the start of their commencement

The new policy dramatically departs from the stance of the Obama administration, which on multiple occasions said schools could consider race in admissions decisions and should do so to foster diversity.

The following year, the Bush administration advised schools to use "race-neutral methods" to determine where children go to school, suggesting that officials use socioeconomic status instead of race.

The Supreme Court set the precedent that allowed for affirmative action in college admission decisions in 1978 and reaffirmed that precedent in 2003, 2013 and 2016.

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

"We condemn the Department of Education's politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation's colleges and universities", Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law told CNN. But they are very loose in their reading of Supreme Court rulings over the last decade.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration said that the Obama administration's advocacy for a particular policy position was "inconsistent" with the principles for agency guidance.

In 2011, the Obama administration encouraged America's selective educational institutions to cultivate diversity in their classrooms, by "taking account of the race of individual students in a narrowly tailored manner".

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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 admission policies based exclusively on Tuesday's announcement.

In 2016, a divided Supreme Court upheld the use of race-based admissions in colleges, deciding that such policies do not necessarily violate the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. "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".

'This guidance restated the law and our national commitment to diversity. However, the action does suggest that the federal government will be more willing to investigate complaints by applicants that they were denied entrance to a particular college due to their race, experts said.

The Trump administration's action was put in motion with a letter from Kenneth Marcus, assistant education secretary for civil rights, and John Gore, acting assistant attorney general. The guidance said that while race should not be the primary factor in an admission decision, schools could lawfully consider it in the interest of achieving diversity.

Edward Blum, a legal strategist who founded Students for Fair Admissions, issued a statement saying his group's filing "exposes the startling magnitude of Harvard's discrimination".

The case is likely to go to trial this fall and may ultimately be decided years from now by the US Supreme Court.

Ultimately, it should not come as a surprise that the Trump administration would rescind these guidelines, said Tomiko Brown-Nagin, the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and a constitutional law expert.

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