How will colleges react to Trump policy on race in admissions?

The shift gives schools and universities the federal government's blessing to take a race-neutral approach to the students they consider for admission. Harvard, meanwhile, said it would continue considering race as an admissions factor to create a "diverse campus community where students from all walks of life have the opportunity to learn with and from each other".

In a pair of policy guidance documents, the Education and Justice departments told elementary and secondary schools and college campuses to use "the compelling interests" established by the court to achieve diversity. This wasn't necssarily at odds with Court precedent, but it very well could have sent a message to schools that diversity at all costs was the top priority.

And in the final year of Barack Obama's presidency, the Supreme Court vindicated his administration's position.

"The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are Constitutional, and the Court's written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue".

The Department of Education and Justice Department also said the previous administration's guidance went beyond the requirements of the Constitution to "prematurely decide, or appear to decide, whether particular actions violate the Constitution or federal law".

President Donald Trump's administration is planning to undo policies that would encourage race as a factor in college admissions, according to news reports.

"In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law", Mr. Sessions said.

The Obama administration believed that students benefit from being surrounded by diverse classmates, so in 2011, the administration offered schools a potential road map to establishing affirmative action policies that could withstand legal scrutiny.

In 2016, the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the practice in a 4-3 decision - but in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door open to future legal challenges by saying school must continue reviewing their affirmative-action policies. The guidelines that will be eliminated called for colleges to seek ways to promote racial diversity without being discriminatory in their admissions.

'This guidance restated the law and our national commitment to diversity. They were not making up new law and were more of a resource for schools to use as they established student assignment plans and admissions policies. Some states, including California and Florida, prohibit public universities from considering race and ethnicity. In 2007, the high court sharply limited how school districts could use race in enrollment.The ruling struck down race-based policies in Seattle and Louisville. With Trump expected to announce his nominee next week, the issue should be a central part of any confirmation process, said Howard University School of Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker.

"People have been talking about precedent in regard to Roe. v. Wade" - the landmark 1973 ruling affirming a woman's right to abortion - "but it's important to remember that affirmative action has been a precedent for the past 40 years", she said. They concluded that the Supreme Court "has made clear such steps can include taking account of the race of individual students in a narrowly tailored manner."...

  • Joey Payne