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DOJ drops discrimination case against Yale University

DOJ drops discrimination case against Yale University
© Yale University | Michael Marsland

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday requested the dismissal of its Trump-era case against Yale University that accused the school of admissions discrimination against white and Asian Americans. 

Prosecutors submitted a notice to drop the case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, saying the government’s dismissal was “voluntary.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in October after a two-year investigation, argued that the Ivy League university had violated federal civil rights law for “at least 50 years” by using admissions practices that favored Black and Hispanic students.  

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The DOJ had asserted that Asian Americans and white students were one-eighth and one-fourth as likely to be accepted, respectively, when compared to Black applicants. 

The legal battle represented one of the Trump administration’s moves to challenge affirmative action programs aimed at increasing diversity on campus, which some conservatives consider unfair and illegal.

Yale, which staunchly defended its admission practices, praised the DOJ’s decision to drop the case in a statement, saying it was "gratified" by the decision.

"Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity,” the university said. “Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree.”

Yale University President Peter Salovey called the dismissal "welcome news" in a letter to the university community.

"Today’s news comes at the start of a new semester, which is a time of reflection and recommitment to Yale’s mission of educating future leaders who will serve all sectors of society," he wrote. "Our ability to realize this shared mission relies on an admissions process that looks at the whole applicant: where applicants come from, what they have accomplished, and what they hope to achieve at Yale and after graduation." 

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The Trump administration made several moves to prevent universities from considering race as a factor during admissions, including joining a previous similar lawsuit against Harvard University.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held up race-based affirmative action programs in the past. But with the highest court now firmly conservative after Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettDemocrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Pelosi says she won't bring bill to expand Supreme Court to the floor Biden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives MORE was confirmed last year, some think the practices could be in more danger.

Updated at 7:03 p.m.