Justice Department drops Trump-era lawsuit accusing Yale of discriminating against white and Asian applicants

US Department of Justice attorneys dismissed a lawsuit against Yale University alleging that the Ivy League institution discriminated against white and Asian students in its admissions process.

Donald Trump’s Justice Department initially filed the suit last year, as the administration sought to target university admissions processes and challenge federal civil rights policies on racial inclusivity, including affirmative action, which right-wing lawmakers have routinely attacked.

The US Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld race-conscious admissions processes. But last year, the Justice Department under the former president announced  “although the Supreme Court has held that colleges receiving federal funds may consider applicants’ race in certain limited circumstances as one of a number of factors, the Department of Justice found Yale’s use of race is anything but limited.”

Officials accused Yale of relying on race “at multiple steps of its admissions process resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission.”

The university in Connecticut has categorically denied the allegations. In a statement following the lawsuit in October, president Peter Salovey said: “I want to be clear: Yale does not discriminate against applicants of any race or ethnicity. Our admissions practices are completely fair and lawful. Yale’s admissions policies will not change as a result of the filing of this baseless lawsuit.”

Wednesday’s action marks another reversal under Joe Biden’s administration from his predecessor, including a series of executive actions striking at the core of the former president’s anti-immigration, climate and civil rights agendas.

The previous administration also made similar allegations about Harvard University’s admissions process, which a federal appeals court rejected last year.

“Yale is gratified that the US Justice Department has dropped its lawsuit challenging Yale College’s admissions practices,” university director of media relations Karen Peart said in a statement to The Independent.

“We are also pleased that the Justice Department has withdrawn its notice of violation of Title VI and its notice of noncompliance.  The Justice Department’s decision in August 2020 to issue the notice of violation unexpectedly and precipitously cut off an exchange of information that Yale looks forward to resuming.”

Mr Salovey said in a statement on Wednesday that “Yale welcomes the chance to share information with the department, confident that our admissions process complies fully with decades of Supreme Court decisions.”

“Today’s news comes at the start of a new semester, which is a time of reflection and recommitment to Yale’s mission of educating future leaders who will serve all sectors of society,” he said. “Our ability to realize this shared mission relies on an admissions process that looks at the whole applicant: where applicants come from, what they have accomplished, and what they hope to achieve at Yale and after graduation. In this way, we create an incoming class that is richly diverse – with invaluable benefits to our students, faculty, and community.”

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