"Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law".
But conservatives argue that these rulings could unfairly harm white and Asian college applicants. Trump could soon stake out a formal position opposing Harvard's practices, specialists in college admissions predicted Tuesday.
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On Tuesday, Harvard and other universities were defiant in defending their admissions policies as legal. "This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody". Those districts will no longer be able to rely on the Education Department, she said, to help them craft a policy that complies with the Supreme Court's decision. "Their college education has to prepare them for today and tomorrow, not the world of yesterday".
"Yet again we see that this administration's goal and vision for "Making America Great Again" is to reduce the role of the state in making sure our society prizes diversity and inclusion", Richmond said in a statement.
None of the three directives have any legal bearing on what colleges and universities may or may not choose to do with regards to affirmative action in admissions.
The university denies wrongdoing and says its methods - weighing race and ethnicity as one factor among many in a review of an applicant's background and credentials - conform to decades of settled law.
The supreme court narrowly upheld the premise of race-based admissions 4-3 in the 2016 case of Fisher v Texas, but the decision is now vulnerable to being overturned with the impending retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the changes an effort to restore the "rule of law", though civil rights groups decried the move and some universities said they meant to continue their diversity efforts as before.
A change in the court's approach could take years to play out.
In 2016, the US Supreme Court had ruled in favour of affirmative action. In 2007, the high court sharply limited how school districts could use race in enrollment.The ruling struck down race-based policies in Seattle and Louisville.
His departure gives President Donald Trump a chance to appoint a justice who more closely matches the administration's views on taking race into account in college admissions.
"They've obviously been looking at the case for nearly a year now", Clegg said.
The Justice Department in the Trump administration had already signaled its concern about the use of race in admissions decisions.
Outside parties will be filing briefs in the Harvard case in the coming weeks.
The department, for instance, sided this year with Asian-American plaintiffs who contend in a lawsuit against Harvard that the school unlawfully limits how many Asian students are admitted.
Her former colleague, Anurima Bhargava, who was head of the department's civil rights enforcement under Obama, was cited by the Wall Street Journal as saying: "The law on this hasn't changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity".
Still, the rescinding of the Obama guidelines could have a chilling effect on some universities as they consider the makeup of incoming freshman classes, advocates of affirmative action said. "The federal government should not threaten colleges and universities in their efforts to construct inclusive campuses". It comes as the Trump administration continues its crackdown on immigration, including asylum seekers. "This is contrary to the spirit of existing law".