The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is preparing to look into and possibly sue universities whose affirmative action admissions policies could be deemed discriminatory against white applicants, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
An internal memo, obtained by the Times, advertised for lawyers within the agency who would be interested in a new initiative that includes “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
According to the Times report, the memo does not list any specific group of college applicants that could be at risk of discrimination. However, the phrasing “intentional race-based discrimination” is geared toward affirmative action programs that aim to recruit more minority students.
The memo appears to be a project that will be carried out in an office within the Civil Rights Division, where many of President Trump's political appointees work rather than career civil servants who usually handle cases involving schools and universities.
The Justice Department declined the newspaper's requests both to provide more details about the new initiative or to make John Gore, acting head of the division, available for an interview.
“The Department of Justice does not discuss personnel matters, so we’ll decline comment,” Devin O’Malley, a department spokesman, told the Times.
The Times said this signals Trump and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE are leading the agency’s civil rights branch in a more conservative direction.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a diverse student body benefits the education provided by a university, thus justifying that race could be used as a factor when deciding among applicants, but the higher court left the parameters of such a practice quite undefined.