DOJ Investigating Harvard Over Affirmative-Action Policies

A tour group in 2012 walks through the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge Mass

When The New York Times reported in August that the Justice Department was looking for lawyers to work on "possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions", the department said that the posting was related to an ongoing case rolled over from the Obama administration. "Title VI of that law prohibits federally funded institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin". As for now, Harvard officials claim that the release of admissions information will interfere with the privacy rights of students.

Harvard University, which has been placed under U.S. Department of Justice scrutiny for alleged violations of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, was just told to turn over documents by December 1 or face legal challenge from the federal agency.

Attorneys for Harvard in an October 6 letter to the Justice Department seen by Reuters questioned the timing of the probe.

The Justice Department cited a 2015 lawsuit that charges Harvard's affirmative action policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants, in a letter setting a December 1 deadline for Harvard to hand over documents on its admission policies.

WilmerHale, the firm representing Harvard, did not return The Daily Caller News Foundation's request for comment in time for publication.

He states that the complaint at the core of this investigation is two and a half years old, and is "even more unusual because, as you know, identical issues are being litigated in federal court".

The US Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that affirmative action can continue to be used by public universities when considering minority students. "'On the other hand, you have conservatives who feel like their voices are being shut down in debates over things like affirmative action and immigration and sexual assault'". "For obvious reasons, Title VI does not allow entities under investigation to dictate what information qualifies as relevant", Reuters reported, citing portions of a letter Justice sent to Harvard.

In the November 17 letter, the Justice Department rejected the access plan as "impractical and unnecessary", saying it improperly limited its right to review the information.

"The university will certainly comply with its obligations under Title VI", Harvard spokeswoman Anna Cowenhoven said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is probing other similar allegations, the newspaper said.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement: "The Department of Justice takes seriously any potential violation of an individual's civil and constitutional rights". The 2014 lawsuit alleges Harvard University limits the number of Asians it admits each year.

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