The Justice Department refutes New York Times story, claims it’s investigating discrimination against Asians



On Tuesday, the New York Times claimed in a report that the Trump administration was attempting to redirect resources of the Justice Department's civil rights division toward suing universities whose affirmative action admissions policies are deemed discriminatory toward white applicants.

Upon the story's release, social media erupted in a furor over the leaked internal document obtained by the Times, which stated that the civil rights division is currently seeking lawyers to work on a new project on "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions."

However, on Wednesday, DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores denied the veracity of the claims made by the Times, saying in a statement, "Press reports regarding the personnel posting in the Civil Rights Division have been inaccurate. The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior administration left unresolved."

She further noted that the DOJ has not received or issued "any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general."

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Affirmative Action cases, protests
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Students protest in support of affirmative action, outside the Supreme Court during the hearing of 'Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action' on October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. The case revolves around affirmative action and whether or not states have the right to ban schools from using race as a consideration in school admissions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: A woman protests in support of affirmative action, outside the Supreme Court during the hearing of 'Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action' on October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. The case revolves around affirmative action and whether or not states have the right to ban schools from using race as a consideration in school admissions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 14: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) speaks at a press conference with Jennifer Gratz, CEO of XIV Foundation, the day before going before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of 'Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action,' on October 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. 'Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action' centers around affirmative action in higher education and whether or not a state has the constitutional right to ban college admissions from giving 'preferential treatment' to potential students based on race during the admissions process. In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger stating that states have the right to consider race in the admissions process as part of an 'individualized, holistic review of each applicant's file' - whether or not the state's right to consider race is an obligation is what is at stake. In 2006 the voters of Michigan passed an amendment by 58% banning racial considerations in a college admissions process, which the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is now fighting. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10: People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court is scheduled to hear arguments on Fisher V. University of Texas at Austin, and are tasked with ruling on whether the university's consideration of race in admissions is constitutional. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10: Travis Ballie holds a sign that reads (Diversity Works) in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court is scheduled to hear arguments on Fisher v University of Texas at Austin, and are tasked with ruling on whether the university's consideration of race in admissions is constitutional. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Students hoping for a repeal of California's Proposition 209 hold signs as they protest outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on February 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. A Federal appeals court will hear arguments in a lawsuit that wants to overturn Proposition 209, a voter approved measure that prohibits affirmative action at state universities. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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As Buzzfeed explained, the complaint Isgur Flores is referring to was filed in 2015 by a coalition of 64 Asian-American groups. Those groups claim that Harvard University imposed race-based quotas on admissions, including quotas on Asian students.

The complaint was dismissed in 2015, according to Buzzfeed, because a similar suit filed by the anti–affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions had already been filed in federal court.

"It's the most prominent of the affirmative action cases, the one that's galvanized the most debate and discussion," Edward Blum, an anti–affirmative action lawyer, told Buzzfeed when asked about the Harvard lawsuit. "That lawsuit is specifically about Asian quotas — it has nothing to do with white students."

In September, Harvard filed a motion to dismiss the case in federal court, however that motion was rejected on June 2, the Harvard Crimson reported. At the time, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled that the Students for Fair Admissions had the "associational standing necessary to pursue this litigation."

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