×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Justice Department Slammed by Activists Over Report of Program Against Affirmative Action

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers and activists were quick to condemn reports that the Department of Justice was prepared to shift resources to investigate university and college affirmative action policies to determine if they discriminate against white prospective students.

The New York Times obtained an internal document that showed the civil rights division was seeking attorneys for a new program for “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

At the daily press briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Times report was based “entirely on uncorroborated inferences,” and that they would not comment on potential investigations. “The Department of Justice will always review credible allegations of discrimination on the basis of any race.”

The report has particular resonance in entertainment, where there has been pressure on studios and networks to diversify the ranks of workers on and off camera.

Representatives at film and arts schools have so far been reluctant to comment on the story, but one administrator said that the Times report was puzzling in light of the fact that their problem was not enough diversity among student populations. “The problem is we are not diverse enough,” the administrator said.

Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, said that the UC system has been increasing its outreach to Latino and African American students, but it is still bound by California’s Proposition 209, which prohibits consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions. “It would be tragic, to say the least, if these efforts somehow ran afoul of this reported misguided Justice Department initiative,” she said.

It is also an issue for private universities that receive federal funds.

Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program, said that the “idea that the Justice Department would sue colleges over their inclusive policies is an affront to fairness and sends a dangerous signal that it will no longer work to protect the most vulnerable.”

“The Supreme Court has made it clear that it is constitutional to appropriately consider race as one of many factors in college admissions,” he added. “We will be monitoring closely.”

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (R-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, linked the report of the new DOJ program to President Donald Trump’s attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Instead of standing up for himself to a president who called him ‘very weak’ and ‘beleaguered,’ Attorney General Sessions has chosen to pick on minority students who are in pursuit of a college education, opportunity and The American Dream,” he said. “In doing so, he’s appealing to the lowest common denominator in our country, people who wrongly believe that minority students who benefit from efforts to promote diversity and equality are ignorant, undeserving, and unqualified.”

The Supreme Court, in its 2016 decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, upheld an affirmative action program at the University of Texas, signaling that colleges and universities could continue to consider race as one of the factors in trying to diversify their student population.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the head of the Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama, said that such a program would show that Session is “now actively seeking to challenge efforts that colleges and universities have undertaken to expand educational opportunity is an affront to our values as a country and the very mission of the Civil Rights Division.”

Roger Clegg, the CEO of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative group devoted to issues of race and ethnicity, praised the news of the DOJ program. He argued that the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision made a “narrow” exception for using race in admission practices.

“Unfortunately, the evidence is that many schools use racial preferences sloppily and don’t follow the constraints the Court has set out,” Clegg said in a statement. “By using race and ethnicity rather than actual social and economic disadvantage, racial preferences harm many low-income Asians as well as whites.”

More Biz

  • The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono

    U2 Tops Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran as Highest-Grossing Touring Artist of the Decade

    U2 topped the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift as the top-grossing touring artist of the 2010s, according to data from Pollstar. U2 grossed more than a billion dollars — $1,038,104,132, to be exact — although that number is likely to grow, as the group is currently on its “Joshua Tree 2019” tour in Australia, New [...]

  • supreme court byron allen comcast

    Africa Channel Owner, Congressional Black Caucus Blast Comcast Over Byron Allen Case

    The Congressional Black Caucus and an owner of cable’s Africa Channel have turned up the pressure on Comcast, blasting the cable giant for its business practices and legal strategy in fighting Byron Allen’s racial discrimination lawsuit. Paula Madison, an owner of The Africa Channel (TAC), issued a lengthy statement criticizing Comcast for what she characterized [...]

  • Def Jam Logo

    Layoffs Hit Def Jam Records

    Def Jam Records laid off several employees this week, including executive VP of brand strategy and content Noah Callahan-Bever and OJ Lima, senior VP in that department, a source close to the situation has confirmed to Variety. A total of seven employees let go, a number that includes regional promotion staffers not based in New [...]

  • The Story of Erroll Garner, the First

    The True Story of Erroll Garner, the First Artist to Sue a Major Label and Win

    It’s not at all unusual for artists to engage in creative or financial differences with their record labels, but only a few end up in court. Last year, Kanye West sued his label, Universal, and publisher, EMI, claiming that his deals amounted to “servitude” (the EMI suit was settled in September), echoing Prince’s famous battle [...]

  • Peter Gray

    Columbia Records Names Peter Gray Executive VP/ Head of Promotion

    Peter Gray, who stepped down as Warner Bros. Records’ executive VP/GM and head of radio promotion last year, is joining Columbia Records as the label’s EVP and head of promotion, sources tell Variety. He fills the role vacated by Lee Leipsner, who left the company in March. Gray’s appointment is the latest in a series [...]

  • U2, Seattle 14 May 2017

    U2 Drop New Song, ‘Ahimsa,’ Ahead of First Concert in India

    After a flurry of rumors on Thursday, U2 dropped their first single in two years: “Ahimsa,” a collaboration with Oscar- and Grammy-winning Indian musician AR Rahman, ahead of the group’s first-ever visit to the country next month. Rahman has a vast track record of film soundtracks and is best known for his work on the [...]

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content