特朗普政府将鼓励大学招生忽略种族因素

特朗普政府将鼓励大学招生忽略种族因素

ERICA L. GREEN, MATT APUZZO, KATIE BENNER2018年7月4日

2007年,亚利桑那州立大学的学生。2007年,亚利桑那州立大学的学生。 LAURA SEGALL FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

华盛顿——特朗普政府官员表示,政府将鼓励全国学校管理者和大学校长采用无视种族的招生标准,放弃奥巴马政府要求大学将种族视为校园多元化的一个因素。

司法部发言人德文·M·奥马利(Devin M. O’Malley)说,去年11月,司法部长杰夫·塞申斯(Jeff Sessions) 认为过去的一些政策促使司法部做出了超出法律、宪法和最高法院要求的行动,他要求司法部对这些政策进行重新评估。作为该评估过程的一部分,司法部于周二取消了教育部民权办公室颁发的七项政策指导。

“行政部门不能通过制定超越法律的指导方案来规避国会或法院,在某些情况下,这些指导方案会被记录在案长达数十年之久,”奥马利说。

最高法院已逐步减少了学校在试图令学生群体多样化时就种族因素所采取的措施。但它并没有禁止这种做法。

现在,平权行动正处于十字路口。特朗普政府正在继续反对一切以种族衡量教育多样性的措施。安东尼·肯尼迪(Anthony Kennedy)大法官将于本月底退休,离开最高法庭,这令最高法院关于平权行动的投票失去了摇摆票,唐纳德·特朗普总统亦可提名一位新法官,反对一项几十年来试图整合精英教育机构的政策。

哈佛大学对亚裔学生案是一个备受瞩目的案例,学生们称,这个国家最负盛名的学府之一有计划有步骤地排除了一些亚裔申请者,以便为其他种族的学生保留名额。该案件显然希望上诉到最高法院。

“不仅白人学生受到歧视,而且亚裔和其他群体也受到歧视,因此在教育中考虑种族这件事正在从整体上被重新审视,”保守组织平等机会中心(Center for Equal Opportunity)主席兼法律总顾问罗杰·克莱格(Roger Clegg)说。“随着国家人口结构的变化,问题越来越多。”

奥巴马政府认为,置身多样化的同学之中会令学生受益,因此在2011年,该政府为学校提供了一份经得住法律审查、建设平权行动政策的潜在方案。这份指导方案在发布时颇有争议,有人认为它在阐释法律方面走得太远。司法官员表示,指导方案中关于情景假设的几页特别成问题,因为它们显然是在根据具体的政策偏好歪曲法律。

在两份政策指导文件中,奥巴马时期的教育部和司法部要中小学以及大学基于最高法院确立的“令人信服的利益”来实现多样性。它们总结道,最高法院“明确表示,这些措施可以包括以严密关联的方式考虑学生个体的种族”。

特朗普政府周二的决定将让政府政策回归到乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)政府的指导方案。特朗普政府没有正式重新发布布什时代关于种族问题的入学指导方案,但是,最近几天,政府官员确实在网上重新发布了布什政府的平权行动政策文件。

该文件指出,“教育部强烈鼓励使用种族中立的方法将学生分配到中小学。”

过去几年里,这个文件为一个备注所取代,其中写着这一政策已经被撤回了。布什政府的政策如今已经全文公布,不带有任何备注。在最高法院在一份裁决中表示学校应当将种族作为多种因素一道纳入考量后,2016年,它重申了自己的观点。

在那个案件,即费舍诉德州大学奥斯汀分校案(Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin)中,一名白人女子称自己因为种族而没能被录取,而部分原因是因为这所大学有一个项目,该项目录取了占据其班级排名前10%的大批少数族裔学生。

“要在多元的追求和宪法对平等待遇和尊严的承诺之间达成一致,仍然是我国教育体系面临的一个长期挑战,”肯尼迪大法官就这个以4比3票通过的裁决写道。

特朗普政府的计划将抛弃现有的政策,鼓励学校完全不考虑种族。新的政策将不具备法律效力,但相当于联邦政府的官方观点。保持录取政策不变的学校官员知道自己会面临司法部调查或起诉,或者失去来自教育部的联邦资助。

对于这些决定事关收回对少数族裔保护的观点,司法部一名高级官员予以了反驳。他表示他们正在让该部进一步依从法律条文。

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他指出,收回指导方案与更改法律不同,所以从技术上说,取消指导的决定不会对政府如何辩护或质疑与平权行动相关的问题产生法律影响。

这一举措公布之时,正值保守派看到了一个解除平权行动的机会。

塞申斯已经表示过,他的检察官们将调查并且起诉那些存在歧视性录取政策的大学。此外,由保守派支持、针对哈佛大学的起诉正在由向费舍施压,要求其行动的同一群人推动,即公平代表运动(Project on Fair Representation)。

贝拉克·奥巴马总统任内在司法部负责学校落实民事权、共同起草奥巴马时代指导方案的阿奴利马·巴尔加瓦(Anurima Bhargava)表示,撤回该政策是为了赶上哈佛诉讼案于本月底递交摘要的时机。

“这完全是政治攻击,”巴尔加瓦表示。“而且我们的学校是社区集合起来的地方,所以我们的学校必须要继续按照美国宪法要求的那样,促进多元化,解决隔离问题。”

“这是保守派破坏平权行动更大范围努力的一部分,”密歇根大学(University of Michigan)法学教授、前司法部民权律师塞缪尔·巴格斯托斯(Samuel Bagenstos)说。“这是共和党政府自里根以来一直在做的事。”

周五,教育部开始为指导方案的决定奠定基础。它在民权网站上恢复了布什时代的指导方案,而这一方案曾被奥巴马政府终结。据一名熟悉该决定的人士表示,这一举动表明教育部在平权行动上的立场发生了改变。

教育部一位发言人没有回复置评的请求。

Trump Officials Reverse Obama’s Policy on Affirmative Action in Schools

The Trump administration has reversed an Obama-era policy that urged universities to consider race as a factor in admissions. In this video, we look back at the decades-long history of affirmative action and how it has changed.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said Tuesday that it was abandoning Obama administration policies that called on universities to consider race as a factor in diversifying their campuses, signaling that the administration will champion race-blind admissions standards.

In a joint letter, the Education and Justice Departments announced that they had rescinded seven Obama-era policy guidelines on affirmative action, which, the departments said, “advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution.”

“The executive branch cannot circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law and — in some instances — stays on the books for decades,” said Devin M. O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesman.

Striking a softer tone, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote in a separate statement: “The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue. Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law.”

The Trump administration’s moves come with affirmative action at a crossroads. Hard-liners in the Justice and Education Departments are moving against any use of race as a measurement of diversity in education. And the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy at the end of this month will leave the Supreme Court without its swing vote on affirmative action while allowing President Trump to nominate a justice opposed to policies that for decades have tried to integrate elite educational institutions.

A highly anticipated case is pitting Harvard against Asian-American students who say one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions has systematically excluded some Asian-American applicants to maintain slots for students of other races. That case is clearly aimed at the Supreme Court.

“The whole issue of using race in education is being looked at with a new eye in light of the fact that it’s not just white students being discriminated against, but Asians and others as well,” said Roger Clegg, the president and general counsel of the conservative Center for Equal Opportunity. “As the demographics of the country change, it becomes more and more problematic.”

Democrats and civil rights organizations denounced the administration’s decisions. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said the “rollback of vital affirmative action guidance offends our nation’s values” and called it “yet another clear Trump administration attack on communities of color.”

Guidance documents like those rescinded on Tuesday do not have the force of law, but they amount to the official view of the federal government. School officials who keep their race-conscious admissions policies intact would do so knowing that they could face a Justice Department investigation or lawsuit, or lose funding from the Education Department.

The Obama administration believed that students benefited from being surrounded by diverse classmates, so in 2011, the administration offered schools a potential road map to establishing affirmative action policies and race-based considerations that could withstand legal scrutiny from an increasingly skeptical Supreme Court.

In a pair of policy guidance documents issued in 2011, the Obama Education and Justice Departments informed elementary and secondary schools and college campuses of “the compelling interests” established by the Supreme Court to achieve diversity. They concluded that the court “has made clear such steps can include taking account of the race of individual students in a narrowly tailored manner.”

But Trump Justice Department officials identified those documents as particularly problematic and full of “hypotheticals” intended to allow schools to skirt the law.

The Trump administration’s decision returned the government’s policies to the George W. Bush era. The administration did not formally reissue the Bush-era guidance but in recent days did repost a Bush administration affirmative action policy document online. That document states, “The Department of Education strongly encourages the use of race-neutral methods for assigning students to elementary and secondary schools.” For several years, that document had been replaced by a note declaring that the policy had been withdrawn.

The Education Department had last reaffirmed its position on affirmative action in schools in 2016 after a Supreme Court ruling said schools could consider race as one factor among many. In that case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a white woman claimed she was denied admission because of her race.

“It remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the 4-to-3 majority.

Some colleges, such as Duke and Bucknell universities, said they would wait to see how the Education Department proceeds in issuing new guidance. Other colleges said they would proceed with diversifying their campuses as the Supreme Court intended.

Melodie Jackson, a Harvard spokeswoman, said the university would “continue to vigorously defend its right, and that of all colleges and universities, to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court for more than 40 years.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Michigan, which won a major Supreme Court case in 2003, suggested that the flagship university would like more freedom to consider race, not less. But it is already constrained by state law. After the case, Michigan voters enacted a constitutional ban on race-conscious college admissions policies.

“We believe the U.S. Supreme Court got it right in 2003 when it affirmed our law school’s approach at the time, which allowed consideration of race as one of many factors in the admissions process,” said Kim Broekhuizen, the Michigan spokeswoman. “We still believe that.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated that he will take a tough line against such views. Federal prosecutors will investigate and sue universities over discriminatory admissions policies, he said.

But a senior Justice Department official denied that these decisions were rolling back protections for minorities. He said they were instead hewing the department closer to the letter of the law. In the departments’ letter, officials wrote that “the protections from discrimination on the basis of race remain in place.”

“The departments are firmly committed to vigorously enforcing these protections on behalf of all students,” the letter said.

Anurima Bhargava, who headed civil rights enforcement in schools for the Justice Department under President Barack Obama and helped write that administration’s guidance, said the withdrawal of the guidelines was timed for brief filings in the Harvard litigation, due at the end of the month.

“This is a wholly political attack,” Ms. Bhargava said. “And our schools are the place where our communities come together, so our schools have to continue to promote diversity and address segregation, as the U.S. Constitution demands.”

Catherine Lhamon, who served as the Education Department’s head of civil rights under Mr. Obama, called the departments’ move confusing.

“There’s no reason to rethink or reconsider this, as the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and has spoken on this issue,” Ms. Lhamon said.

On Friday, the Education Department began laying the groundwork for the shift, when it restored on its civil rights website the Bush-era guidance. Conservative advocacy groups saw that as promising. Mr. Clegg, of the Center for Equal Opportunity, said that preserving the Obama-era guidance would be akin to “the F.B.I. issuing a document on how you can engage in racial profiling in a way where you won’t get caught.”

Ms. DeVos has seemed hesitant to wade in on the fate of affirmative action policies, which date back to a 57-year-old executive order by President John F. Kennedy, who recognized systemic and discriminatory disadvantages for women and minorities. The Education Department did not partake in the Justice Department’s formal interest in Harvard’s litigation.

“I think this has been a question before the courts and the courts have opined,” Ms. DeVos told The Associated Press.

But Ms. DeVos’s new head of civil rights, Kenneth L. Marcus, may disagree. A vocal opponent of affirmative action, Mr. Marcus was confirmed last month on a party-line Senate vote, and it was Mr. Marcus who signed Tuesday’s letter.

Under Mr. Marcus’s leadership, the Louis D. Brandeis Center, a human rights organization that champions Jewish causes, filed an amicus brief in 2012, the first time the Supreme Court heard Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. In the brief, the organization argued that “race conscious admission standards are unfair to individuals, and unhealthy for society at large.”

The organization argued that Asian-American students were particularly victimized by race “quotas” that were once used to exclude Jewish people.

As the implications for affirmative action for college admissions play out in court, it is unclear what the decision holds for elementary and secondary schools. New York City is embroiled in a debate about whether to change its entrance standard — currently a single test — for its most prestigious high schools to allow for more black and Latino students.






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