Affirmative Action's Newest Adversary: The Department of (Alleged) Justice

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August 2, 2017
Photo by: Photo by Faustin Tuyambaze on Unsplash

Today, Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven blasted the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over new reports revealing plans to undermine and attack affirmative action policies.

A report from The New York Times this week affirmed the effort will dedicate resources from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.

The effort continues adding to a laundry list of civil rights offenses by the Trump administration, the most recent of which came last week when the administration levied a series of assaults on LGBT rights and policies.

"The DOJ's continued war on civil rights has hit a new low today, and only serves to reinforce that the administration is hell bent on creating an America that targets vulnerable communities, undermines important civil rights protections, and ultimately excludes millions of Americans from participating in public life,” said Rachel B. Tiven, the CEO of Lambda Legal.

“Instead of bolstering and strengthening education and opportunity, this administration has used education as a vehicle to advance discrimination – first by targeting transgender students through the Dept. of Education, and now by targeting People of Color through the Dept. of Justice. Meanwhile, real problems – police brutality, government corruption, and rising hate violence – are being ignored, as the DOJ chases figments and myths.

“It’s repulsive and perverse that affirmative action has now found its main adversary in the very arm of DOJ meant to advance progress on civil rights: the Civil Rights Division. We are appalled but not surprised by this continued assault on civil rights, and Jeff Sessions' determination to sully the reputation of the Department of Justice."

The DOJ’s plans were first revealed this week (via a document obtained by The New York Times), and comes just one week after the administration levied a series of attacks on the LGBT community: beginning with President Trump’s tweet indicating intentions to ban transgender people from serving in the military (a move opposed to by a majority of Americans, top military brass, and prominent Republican Members of Congress), and ending with the DOJ intervening in a private employment lawsuit, arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not provide workplace protections for LGBT people.

Lambda Legal has been a strong supporter and defender of affirmative action in college admissions. In 2012, Lambda joined with other civil rights groups to urge the Supreme Court to uphold the University of Texas at Austin’s use of race to advance diversity, joining in the filing of a friend-of-the-court brief as well as educating and creating visibility among its members on the importance of affirmative action policies.