Under the bogus guise of protecting Asian students, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is colluding with an anti-civil rights lawyer to take down Harvard’s affirmative action policies.
Since taking office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been behaving exactly as his long career of racism would have predicted.
He has unconstitutionally threatened cities to suspend Fourth Amendment rights for immigrants, disbanded federal programs to promote community policing in minority neighborhoods, and is so aggressively expanding racially discriminatory police power to seize people’s property that even some congressional Republicans are protesting.
Now, Sessions is going after laws that give African-Americans, Hispanics, and women an equal shot of being admitted to college.
According to a new report, the Justice Department is demanding Harvard University provide documentation on its affirmative action policies, baselessly accusing them of using a “racial quota” — which, contrary to right-wing myths, is already unconstitutional and never used in affirmative action.
Sessions is launching this investigation on the basis of a lawsuit filed against Harvard by Edward Blum. A right-wing attorney opposed to civil rights law, Blum was the architect of the 2013 Supreme Court case that gutted the Voting Rights Act. He also led the unsuccessful challenge to the University of Texas’s affirmative action program, filed by a white student with mediocre grades who claimed she was entitled to the slot over more qualified minorities.
Ostensibly, this case is not about black or white students. The claim is that Harvard is discriminating against Asian students. But this is a red herring. Asian-Americans as a whole broadly support affirmative action in polls, and several ethnic groups from Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, have benefitted enormously from anti-discrimination policies.
“This is further proof that Attorney General Sessions and the Trump administration will continue to invoke civil rights only to further their own political agenda — not provide equal protections for all Americans,” said Austin Evers, executive director of the government watchdog group American Oversight. “It speaks volumes that Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is prioritizing attacking affirmative action at a time when white nationalists are marching openly in the streets.”
Harvard’s diversity programs have long been a punching bag for the GOP. In 2012, Massachusetts Republicans falsely claimed then-Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren was only hired by Harvard Law School because she pretended to be Native American. Despite the fact she never listed herself as such on any job application, the attack stuck, prompting Donald Trump to repeatedly slur Warren as “Pocahontas.”
Academia is served well by an environment in which people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are represented and given a platform for their ideas. Sessions cannot tolerate this, and will not be satisfied until all cultural progress is rolled back.