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Justice Department drops lawsuit saying Yale discriminated against in admissions

The Justice Department stepped down on Wednesday a lawsuit against Yale University who accused him of discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants, undoing a key part of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine race-based college admissions.

The department filed a lawsuit last year on the grounds that white and Asian American students faces stricter admissions standards.

His action on Wednesday suggested that the Biden administration may be ready to adopt radically different policies regarding affirmative action, but that does not mean the lawsuit against Yale is dead. Students for Fair Admissions, a group opposed to affirmative action, plans to collect it and reclassify it under its name.

“Yale is pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has dropped its lawsuit challenging Yale College’s admissions practices,” Karen N. Peart, a school spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Our admissions process has enabled Yale College to assemble an unprecedented student body, distinguished by academic excellence and diversity.”

Yale’s “notice of voluntary dismissal” filed Wednesday in federal court in Connecticut gives no reason for the Justice Department’s decision. In a statement, the Justice Department said it dismissed the lawsuit “in light of all available facts, circumstances and legal developments,” including a federal appeals court decision in November. maintain racially-based admissions practices at Harvard.

But the department said it would pursue an “underlying investigation” to ensure compliance with the federal funding provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ms Peart said Yale continued to cooperate with that review.

Students for Fair Admissions, which has also filed lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard, the University of Texas and the University of North Carolina, said it was important that the lawsuit of Yale continues to be vigorously litigated.

“The use of race and ethnicity in college admissions decisions is unfair, unconstitutional, and erodes the social fabric that holds our nation together,” said Edward Blum, president of the organization.

Yale’s lawsuit, filed in October, claimed the university discriminated against Asian-American and white applicants. The government said race was the “determining factor” in hundreds of admissions decisions each year, and that “for the vast majority of applicants,” Asian American and white applicants have only one eighth to one quarter the likelihood of being admitted as Black applicants with comparable academic credentials.

Violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the government said, could cost Yale millions of dollars in taxpayer money. The complaint says Yale received more than $600 million a year in federal funds.

Yale said its admissions process was non-discriminatory and consistent with Supreme Court precedent.

Under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice has also supported a lawsuit against Harvard by students for fair admissions claiming that the university intentionally discriminated against Asian American applicants. Given its withdrawal from the Yale case, the Justice Department also seems likely to rescind its support for the case.

In 2019, a federal judge dismissed claims Students for Fair Admissions made against Harvard, a decision that was upheld by an appeals court. Plaintiffs should file a petition with the Supreme Court.

Because a motion Students for Fair Admissions filed in October to intervene in the Yale case was denied, he would have to refile the case from scratch, though he could use the department’s complaint of Justice as a model.

Civil rights groups, including some representing Asian American students, have praised the Biden administration’s action. “It’s great to see that America once again has a Department of Justice that is back to fulfilling its mission to advance equal educational opportunity and promote racial diversity” , said David Hinojosa, director of the educational opportunities project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Matters. Rights under the law.

But some Asian Americans criticized the decision to drop the suit. Kenny Xu, author of “An Inconvenient Minority,” a book critical of race-based admissions, noted that just days ago President Biden signed an executive order denouncing racial hostility against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, which Donald J. Trump had blamed on the “Chinese virus”.

Yale’s decision to drop the lawsuit, Mr. Xu said, “seriously calls into question the Biden administration’s commitment to fight racism just days after issuing the orders.”

Yale’s withdrawal from the lawsuit may be just the beginning of steps the Biden administration is taking to reverse Trump-era policies.

Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs for the American Council on Education, a group that represents universities, said he expects the new administration to revisit the changes of the era. Trump in policies on campus sexual assault, forgiving student loans defrauded by their schools, and reporting graduate employment earnings.

“They are moving very quickly to reverse a host of Trump administration policies that are inconsistent with the Biden administration’s worldview,” Hartle said.

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