Will Jeff Sessions Really Strip Away Affirmative Action?

As most Americans focus on the potential dangers arising from North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, an important news story that could cause even more angst to certain parties has fallen out of the limelight.

Mainstream news channels reacted with incredulity and in some cases furor when it was announced earlier this month the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division would look into educational institutions that use race-based admissions policies to shut out white or Asian American students.

Here is a look at what really set off the reaction, and what could happen with this story in the future.

Where it Started

The story hit the news when a leaked document showed that the Justice Department was looking for lawyers to investigate and handle litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.

However, a Justice Department spokesperson noted that legal help was only being sought for a particular case dating back to May 2015, where a group of 64 Asian-Americans filed a lawsuit against Harvard University for discrimination in its admissions process. The Justice Department offered no further comment after this, leading to speculation that the lawyers hired for this particular case could take on other, related cases in the future.

Examining the Facts

It is no secret that Ivy League educational institutions use race as a factor in its admissions process. What is more, it is also no secret that people of a particular race need better test scores than those of certain minority races.

In fact, a Princeton study has noted that Asian Americans seeking admission to a private college would need a SAT score that is 140 points higher than their white, non-Asian counterparts. Additionally, the current lawsuit against Harvard University notes that an Asian American would need a SAT score 270 points higher than that of a Hispanic student and a whopping 450 points higher than that of an African American student.

Furthermore, statistics and trends would indicate that at least some Ivy League universities are using a quota-based system to get a certain percentage of students from particular ethnic minorities. At Harvard, an estimated 11.8% of all students are African-Americans, a number that has remained unchanged over the course of at least a few years. An additional 11.8% of students are of Hispanic origin; once again, this number has remained the same year after year.

Given the fact that setting quotas based on race has been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, it would appear that liberal-leaning educational institutions are taking their quest for racial diversity a bit too far.

What Could Change?

If Attorney General Jeff Sessions really did go after the use of race as a factor in educational admission processes, there is a good chance he would win the fight. Some individuals may point to the fact that a few years ago the Supreme Court allowed for the use of race as a factor in the admissions process.

However, the ruling is actually a cautious endorsement of a university admissions process that admitted up to 75% of all students solely based on grades. The ruling noted that a university could only consider race as a factor if its admissions policy could withstand the highest level of constitutional scrutiny. It also called on universities to tailor their approach to the admissions process in light of changing circumstances and to ensure that race plays no greater role than absolutely necessary.

This decision makes it possible for any student who has been denied admission based on race to sue the educational institution in question for using a race-based quota system. Even if the university ultimately wins, another student could sue the same university at a later date as the ruling clearly noted that university policies must be regularly updated, not hitched to a bygone era.

At the same time, Sessions’ clear signal that race-based discrimination is no longer acceptable doesn’t just make it easier than before for students to file a lawsuit against the university. It also enables the Justice Department itself to bring a lawsuit against one or more educational institutions that put too much priority on race in the admissions process. Unlike an individual who can be worn down by excessive legal costs, the Justice Department has the expertise, funding and all the resources it needs to pursue its aims.

~ Conservative Zone


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