The administration issued a similar guidance document in 2016 aimed at giving schools a framework for "considering race to further the compelling interests in achieving diversity and avoiding racial isolation".
The shift would give schools and universities the federal government's blessing to take a race-neutral approach to the students they consider for admission. The opinion, written by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, granted affirmative action policies a narrow victory by permitting race to be among the factors considered in the college admission process.
Mr. Arcidiacono found that an otherwise identical applicant bearing an Asian-American male identity with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 32 percent chance of admission if he were white, a 77 percent chance of admission if he were Hispanic, and a 95 percent chance of admission if he were black.
Vanita Gupta, who oversaw the civil rights division at the U.S. Department of Justice under Obama, issued a statement saying the administration was failing in its duty to ensure the well being of all students. They concluded that the Supreme Court "has made clear such steps can include taking account of the race of individual students in a narrowly tailored manner."...
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 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.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld - though with an increasingly narrow view - the practice of considering race as a factor in order to ensure minorities are integrated at elite USA educational institutions.
Students for Fair Admissions, the group suing Harvard, is led by Ed Blum, a legal strategist who also helped white student Abigail Fisher sue the University of Texas for alleged discrimination in a case that reached the Supreme Court.
The Justice Department under Republican President Donald Trump has been investigating a complaint by more than 60 Asian-American organizations that say Harvard University's policies are discriminatory because they limit the acceptance of Asian-Americans. "It is more evidence that the Trump administration is skeptical about race-based decision-making in admissions and in other contexts".
The Trump administration's move does not change the law on affirmative action. However, the action does suggest that the federal government will be more willing to investigate complaints by applicants that they were denied entrance to a particular college due to their race, experts said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the action was meant to restore the rule of law by "rescinding federal guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law". "We still have all of the Supreme Court rulings that would influence how we handle this". It comes as the Trump administration continues its crackdown on immigration, including asylum seekers.