WHAT WE’RE SEEKING
On August 1, 2017, the New York Times reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) “is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.” DOJ has reportedly begun to recruit lawyers to participate in this project, including circulating an announcement to attorneys in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division describing an opportunity to work on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” This initiative reflects a major policy shift and makes education and access an overtly partisan, political issue.
The extent and nature of collaboration between DOJ and the Department of Education on this initiative is not yet clear, though DOJ may use data from the Department of Education to support this initiative. A partisan political agenda shouldn’t drive the federal government’s approach to civil rights and access to education, but shifts in government policy and pending lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina make it clear that policies promoting access to equal opportunity are under siege.
American Oversight and the Lawyers’ Committee seek information to shed light on the federal government’s approach to civil rights enforcement in college and university admissions, including changes to that approach under the current administration.