However, the agency will continue to investigate Yale through “administrative” means.
The Justice Department has closed a discrimination complaint against Yale University.
The sudden regression represents a significant shift in the policies of the Justice Department under former President Donald Trump. As recently as the winter, federal prosecutors argued that Yale’s admissions policy puts African-American and Hispanic students at risk from white and Asian applicants.
According to CNBC, the Trump administration had fought violently against academic measures to increase racial diversity – and supported lawsuits.
Yale had previously claimed that its admission criteria were non-discriminatory and that race was just one of many factors the university considered when evaluating individual applicants.
Karen Peart, a spokeswoman for Yale, said the college was relieved that the Justice Department had backed down.
“Yale is pleased that the US Department of Justice has closed its lawsuit against Yale College’s admissions practices,” Peart said in a statement.
“Our admissions process has enabled Yale College to bring together an unprecedented student body characterized by academic excellence and diversity,” said Peart. “Yale has steadfastly maintained that its trial is fully in line with Supreme Court precedent and we are confident the Justice Department will approve it.”
The US Department of Justice headquarters. Image via Wikimedia Commons / User: Coolcaesar. (CCA-BY-3.0)
CNBC notes that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that colleges can enforce racial admissions practices. While judges have put limits on how race or ethnicity can affect the outcome of a motion, they have never completely ruled out the practice.
However, Trump’s Justice Department claimed that Yale’s standard placed an unusual and inappropriately stressed emphasis on race.
“Although the Supreme Court ruled that colleges receiving federal funding may consider the race of applicants to be one of several factors under certain circumstances, the Justice Department found that Yale’s use of the breed is far from limited,” the agency said took legal action when she first did it in August.
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, the Justice Department accused Yale of using races “in multiple steps of its eligibility process, resulting in a multiplied impact of the race on an applicant’s likelihood of eligibility.”
The department went on to say that Yale “racially balanced its classes”.
Because certain racial groups – including African American and Latinos – tend to be underrepresented in higher education, a policy of “racial balance” could lead to more Asian and white students being rejected, even if they are comparatively well qualified.
Despite its decision, the Justice Department appears to have left the possibility of further action on the table.
The Yale Daily News notes that although the Department of Justice dismissed its lawsuit against the university “unscathed,” no final decision has been made on the matter. For its part, the department has announced that it will continue to investigate allegations of admission discrimination “through its administrative process”.
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