Trump Administration Reverses Affirmative Action Guidelines
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
The term “affirmative action” was first used in Executive Order No. 10925, signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961. In America, affirmative action refers to the policies used to protect and help members of repressed and/or disproportionately represented communities and ethnic groups by occasionally granting them preference or special consideration in college admissions as well as the workforce. Affirmative action in the US has been accused multiple times of being unconstitutional, but the most recent Supreme Court case involving affirmative action, Fisher v. Texas, has ruled in favor of using race as a factor in admissions with certain restrictions. However, on July 3, 2018, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions under the Trump administration has rescinded 24 different documents involving the usage of race in college admissions and other affirmative action policies.
In 2003, President George W. Bush voiced his opinion on affirmative action and the consideration of race in college admissions. While he believed that diversity in colleges and the workforce were important issues in America, he also believed that choosing certain applicants over others based on race was unconstitutional. Under the Bush administration, colleges were encouraged to adopt a race-neutral method of accepting applicants. In 2011, the Obama administration released policy guidance documents which encouraged primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools to consider race as a factor when accepting applicants to achieve further diversity in schools and accomplish a richer educational environment. The new Trump administration policies contrasts with the previous Obama administration policies, and some have compared it as similar to the Bush administration policies.
Critics of affirmative action have long stated that affirmative action is a form of reverse segregation, as they believe it unfairly treats those of certain majority ethnic groups. The group Students for Fair Admissions, which is currently suing Harvard University for unlawfully limiting how many Asian students are admitted alongside an investigation from the Justice Department supports the action from the Trump administration. Proponents of affirmative action believe that it promotes diversity and inclusion amongst the ranks of colleges as well as the workforce. Groups such as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law condemned the Department of Education’s actions against affirmative action. Many universities such as Harvard University itself believes the actions against affirmative action is counterproductive and vows to continue using race as a factor in admissions regardless of actions taken by the Trump Administration.