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NEWS & ANALYSIS

Biden Justice Department Drops Yale Admissions Discrimination Lawsuit

Last October, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit against Yale after a two-year investigation determined that the Ivy League college illegally discriminates against Asian American and white students during the admissions process. 

The case marked an intense effort by the Trump Justice Department to do away with affirmative action programs, which are considered illegal by many conservatives. 

Indeed, many conservatives hoped that the Supreme Court’s shift to the right – with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett – would produce a decision striking down affirmative action in school admissions. 

But, that hope has been squashed. 

In a continued effort to dismantle any and every Trump policy, the new Biden Justice Department dropped the high-profile discrimination lawsuit against Yale Wednesday, though the investigation remains open. 

“The Justice Department has dismissed its lawsuit in light of all available facts, circumstances, and legal developments,” a spokeswoman said wednesday. 

Yale expressed gratitude following the decision. 

“Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity. Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree,” the university said in a statement. 

The Justice Department’s investigation was first opened in 2018 based on a 2016 complaint filed with the Justice and Education departments by a group of Asian-American organizations, led by the Asian American Coalition for Education, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The lawsuit accused Yale of racial balancing, similar to following quotas, saying the school keeps the annual percentage of admitted African-American applicants to within one percentage point of the previous year’s class, and that it conducts similar balancing for Asian-American applicants. 

It argued Yale’s “oversized, standardless, intentional use of race has subjected domestic, non-transfer applicants to Yale College to discrimination on the ground of race.” 

Though Yale is a private institution, because it receives millions of dollars in federal funds, it is subject to a provision of civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin and other factors, NBC News reports.

The Justice Department’s decision to drop the lawsuit caused shock among members of the Asian American Coalition for Education. 

“I am totally shocked by the Biden DOJ’s hasty decision to drop the Yale lawsuit, only eight days after President Biden signed an executive order claiming to combat anti-Asian discrimination,” said Yukong Zhao, the president of the coalition. 

Swan Lee, co-founder of the group behind the initial complaint, called it “a racist decision because it preserves discrimination in education. It’s a setback in our fight against racial discrimination against Asian Americans in education.”

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