Congressional Democrats pressed the Trump administration for answers Monday regarding any shift in policy on affirmative action and higher education, reacting to reports that the Justice and Education departments may expand investigations into discriminatory admissions policies at universities to include ones that harm white applicants.
The letter, jointly signed by Reps. Bobby Scott of Virginia, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, John Conyers of Michigan, and Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Dianne Feinstein of California pointed to recent reports in the New York Times and Washington Post that raised "concerns as to whether DOJ and ED are launching a new effort to re-examine the values of racial diversity on campus."
"This is the latest effort by this administration to step away from enforcing the protections provided under the Civil Rights Act and instead promote policies that undermine civil rights protections and your departments' civil rights offices," the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was dated Friday and made public Monday.
The reports raised eyebrows partly because they said the new discrimination investigations would not operate out of the Justice Department civil rights division's educational opportunities section, where they are traditionally handled by career civil servants, but instead be managed by political appointees in the front office.
"Such a move suggests this is a political maneuver designed to circumvent DOJ operating procedures and career attorneys, and that DOJ may be considering launching an attack on racial diversity and inclusion in higher education," the lawmakers wrote. The letter details regarding "any new policy" regarding affirmative action and higher education.