Trump-Barr Justice Department sues Yale for discriminating in admissions

The Department of Justice has sued Yale University for race and national origin discrimination in undergraduate admissions. The DOJ alleges that Yale’s discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, in particular most Asian and White applicants.

According to the complaint, Yale engages in racial balancing by, among other things, keeping the annual percentage of African-American admitted applicants to within one percentage point of the previous year’s admitted class as reflected in U.S. Department of Education data. The complaint alleges similar racial balancing with regard to Asian-American applicants. It also alleges that Yale injures applicants and students because its race discrimination relies upon and reinforces damaging race-based stereotypes, including such stereotypes against Yale’s racially-favored applicants.

The DOJ brings the suit after a multi-year investigation into allegations of illegal discrimination contained in a complaint filed by Asian American groups. The Department found that Yale violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Title VI provides: “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, … be subjected to discrimination under any program … receiving Federal financial assistance.”

In announcing this suit, Eric Dreiband, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, stated:

Illegal race discrimination by colleges and universities must end. This nation’s highest ideals include the notion that we are all equal under the law.

For centuries, people from all over the world have learned of this ideal, left their ancestral homes, and come to the United States hoping that this country would live up to its ideals and that they and their families could enjoy equal opportunity and pursue the American dream. Countless Americans have pursued their dreams through higher education, and they continue to do so.

All persons who apply for admission to colleges and universities should expect and know that they will be judged by their character, talents, and achievements and not the color of their skin. To do otherwise is to permit our institutions to foster stereotypes, bitterness, and division.

Many readers are probably familiar with a similar case brought by private plaintiffs against Harvard. There are differences between the two actions.

For one thing, Harvard was accused only of discriminating against Asians and Asian-Americans. The DOJ’s suit against Yale alleges discrimination against White applicants, as well.

There are probably also differences in the ways Yale and Harvard go about manipulating the admissions process to favor Black applicants. I imagine there will be differences in the evidentiary records of the two cases.

The DOJ’s case against Yale was filed in Connecticut, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit. The Harvard case, filed in Massachusetts, is currently on appeal to the First Circuit, a more liberal court.

I expect that if Joe Biden is elected president, his Justice Department will drop the case. (The media’s outrage when political appointees pull the plug on litigation brought during a previous administration of a different political party runs only one way. When a Democratic administration fails to pursue pending cases of a prior Republican administration, it is just serving the public interest by reversing a wrong, in the mainstream media’s view).

Thus, I hope that private plaintiffs with standing — both White and Asian ones — will intervene in the DOJ’s case, so that the litigation can proceed even if Trump loses the election.

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