The Justice Department's civil rights division is being directed toward a new project defending the rights of white college students, according to internal documents. A division document seen by the New York Times seeks lawyers for "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions." Officials say the project will be run out of the front office of the division, where political appointees work, not the Educational Opportunities Section, where career Justice Department attorneys handle other cases on universities. The department declined to comment on the new project Tuesday.
Reagan-era civil rights division worker Roger Clegg tells the Times that he feels the move is "long overdue." "The civil rights laws were deliberately written to protect everyone from discrimination, and it is frequently the case that not only are whites discriminated against now, but frequently Asian-Americans are as well," he says. But Vanita Gupta, the division's head under Obama, calls the project "an affront to our values as a country and the very mission of the civil rights division." "Yet again, the Sessions Justice Department, led by the political leadership and marginalizing the career employees, is changing course on a key civil rights issue," she tells the Washington Post. (Read more affirmative action stories.)