The Trump Administration’s Attempts to Weaken Affirmative Action

American Oversight and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are conducting a joint investigation into the Trump administration’s politically driven attempts to weaken programs run by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education that promote racial diversity at colleges and universities and ensure access for underrepresented minorities.

Background

On Aug. 1, 2017, the New York Times reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was “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.

What We’re Seeking

  • All communications relating to consideration of race in post-secondary education admissions between senior DOJ officials and Eric Dreiband, including communications prior to his appointment by President Trump as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ; 
  • Any list, tracking sheet, report, or other record reflecting open investigations into complaints alleging racial discrimination in post-secondary education admissions, including the institution under investigation;
  • Records related to the decision to transfer the investigation of Harvard and UNC admissions from Education to DOJ;
  • Calendar entries for meetings between Education and DOJ officials regarding affirmative action;
  • Communications between Department of Education officials and outside entities or individuals regarding affirmative action issues and;
  • A copy of the job posting seeking lawyers interested in working on investigations and possible litigation related to the consideration of race in college and university admissions or to so-called “intentional race based discrimination” in college and university admissions.

Related Documents

March 17, 2020

No Records Response from ED Regarding Affirmative Action and Eric Drieband

Department of Education
Agency Reply
March 3, 2020

No Records Response From Education Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Education
Agency Reply
June 20, 2018

FOIA to ED Regarding Education’s Search for Lawyers to Investigate Affirmative Action Policies

Department of Education
FOIA Request
June 20, 2018

FOIA to ED Seeking Calendars to Shed Light on the Decision to Investigate Affirmative Action Policies

Department of Education
FOIA Request
June 20, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Regarding the Decision to Investigate Affirmative Action Policies

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 20, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Calendars to Shed Light on the Decision to Investigate Affirmative Action Policies

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
April 3, 2018

No Records Response From the Office of Civil Rights Regarding Affirmative Action – Communications With Outside Groups

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
January 12, 2018

DOJ Records Related to Affirmative Action Job Posting

Department of Justice
Agency Record
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Justice
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Regarding Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 30, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Regarding Affirmative Action

Department of Education
FOIA Request