On Tuesday, the Trump administration made its official position clear: Schools should limit their use of race as a factor when determining admissions. The administration is moving to rescind seven guidance documents from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice, according to The New York Times. These Obama-era memos encouraged elementary, secondary schools, and colleges to use race in efforts diversify their student bodies, and outlined how to do so within the law. The Trump administration will break with this precedent, and will not actively encourage schools to diversify, the Times reported.
The move by the Trump administration is the most recent blow to the use of race in admissions decisions, and it comes a week after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered a similarly grave punch.
When Kennedy announced his retirement from the United States Supreme Court last week, affirmative action advocates worried it would bring about the end of the use of race in college admissions. In the 2016 Fisher v. University of Texas decision, Kennedy had aligned himself with the court’s liberal wing, casting the decisive vote to allow universities to continue using race as a factor in their admissions decisions. This was a departure for Kennedy, who had previously shied away from upholding affirmative action programs against constitutional challenges. It is only a matter of time before the issue comes before the Court again. And next time, assuming a Trump nominee gets confirmed to the Court, the decision will likely break the other way.