Biden administration drops Trump-era discrimination lawsuit against Yale
The Biden administration announced on Wednesday it had dropped a discrimination lawsuit against Yale University, which alleged that the institution was illegally discriminating against Asian American and white applicants.
While a judge must still sign off on the decision, justice department officials noted in the two-sentence filing in the US district court in Connecticut that it would voluntarily dismiss the action that had been filed by Donald Trump’s administration in October.
Federal prosecutors under Donald Trump had argued the university violates civil rights laws when it “discriminates based on race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions process”, and that “race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year”.
“Yale is gratified that the US justice department has dropped its lawsuit challenging Yale College’s admissions practices,” a spokesperson, Karen Peart, said. “We are also pleased that the justice department has withdrawn its notice of violation of Title VI and its notice of noncompliance.”
The department’s investigation – which stemmed from a 2016 complaint against Yale and its fellow elite universities Brown and Dartmouth – also found that Yale used race as a factor in multiple steps of the admissions process, and that the school “racially balances its classes”.
Before, department officials had signed on to a legal challenge of Harvard University’s race-based admission criteria on similar grounds. But a US court of appeals judge ruled that although the school’s admission process was flawed, it was not on account of racial bias or conscious prejudice.
In a statement, the justice department confirmed it had dismissed the lawsuit “in light of all available facts”, including the November 2020 decision to reject the Harvard challenge. Under current law, schools are responsible for demonstrating that their race-based application process follows legal guidelines.
The decision is the latest move by Biden’s justice department to change the White House’s official position on several cases pending in federal courts, including pausing arguments in cases involving the US-Mexico border wall and rulings on asylum policy.
Yale, meanwhile, had maintained that its selection criteria look at “the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants”. The school added it had complied with decades of legal precedent decided by the US supreme court.
In recent years, conservatives have worked to shift the court to the right – swiftly replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Amy Coney Barrett after Ginsburg’s death in September – in order to sway decisions in their favor, including striking down the use of affirmative action.
Still, the court has ruled colleges and universities may consider race in admissions decisions, but that it must be done in a narrowly tailored way to promote diversity. The use of race must also be done within a limited scope of time.
Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, has since announced that the non-profit would file a new lawsuit against Yale. The conservative, anti-affirmative action lawyer called it “disappointing” that the government had withdrawn from the case.
“Discriminatory admissions policies like Yale’s must be challenged in federal court,” Blum said in a statement.
Militia groups involved in the 6 January insurrection want to stage another attack around Joe Biden’s upcoming address to Congress, aiming to “blow up” the complex and kill lawmakers, the acting chief of the US Capitol police has warned. In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.
The theme of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference is “America Uncanceled.” But this week, just days before CPAC was set to kick off in Orlando, Florida, conference organizers announced they’d had to cancel one of their own scheduled speakers. “We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization,” CPAC organizers tweeted Monday, referring to right-wing social media figure Young Pharaoh.
At least eight 2024 hopefuls will speak at CPAC, the conservative movement’s premier conference this weekend in Florida, giving Republicans their clearest look yet at who’s competing in the traditional GOP presidential lanes. But there’s only one lane that really matters: the one currently occupied by former President Donald Trump.
House conservatives are renewing their calls for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) to step down from her leadership post after she split with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over whether former President Trump should speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). House Freedom Caucus members are going after Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, following an awkward moment during a press conference Wednesday with the House GOP leader.