NAICU Washington Update

Justice Department Drops Yale Race Discrimination Lawsuit

February 05, 2021

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has withdrawn a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the Trump Administration against Yale University.  The lawsuit was originally filed in October, shortly after the Trump Administration issued a finding alleging that the school’s race-conscious admissions program violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally funded programs or activities. 

According to the Trump Administration, Yale’s voluntary consideration of race for purposes of promoting diversity in undergraduate admissions – a practice that is generally considered constitutionally permissible under narrow circumstances – unlawfully discriminated against white and Asian American students. Yale contested these allegations. 

Although the government’s lawsuit has been withdrawn, the legal wrangling is likely to continue. Students for Fair Admissions, the same organization that is suing Harvard University over its affirmative action program, has announced that it will file a similar legal challenge against Yale. 

DOJ’s withdrawal of the lawsuit is the second time in recent weeks that the Biden Administration has taken steps to reverse racial discrimination policies affecting institutions of higher education that were issued by the Trump Administration. On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order rescinding President Trump’s controversial directive restricting federal contractors from conducting workplace training that is based on race or sex stereotypes.  It remains to be seen whether the Biden Administration will discontinue other race-related investigations of elite institutions of higher education that were launched by its predecessor.