Obama-era guidelines encouraging colleges to increase diversity on campus by using race as a factor in admissions will be rescinded by President Trump's administration, two sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The guidelines, published in 2011 and 2016 by the Justice and Education departments, gave legal recommendations to schools wanting to use race in admissions decisions. Trump administration officials argue that those recommendations are misleading, making it seem as if it's easier to achieve a legal form of affirmative action than it actually is. The Supreme Court has weighed the issue of affirmative action several times, most recently reaffirming it in 2016 but leaving an opening for future legal challenges. But a Justice Department official tells CNN the Obama-era guidelines "go beyond or are inconsistent with the Constitution and federal law."
The head of civil rights enforcement in schools in the Obama Justice Department tells the WSJ that's not the case: "The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity. This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody." A formal announcement of the move, which is being decried by civil rights groups, is expected soon, the AP reports. It comes as a lawsuit against Harvard University is making its way through the courts; filed in 2014, the suit alleges Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants by holding them to higher standards and limiting the number it admits. With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has ruled to uphold affirmative action, conservatives are seeing "a fresh opening to end affirmative action through a changing Supreme Court," per Politico. (Read more affirmative action stories.)