“While we cannot comment on the veracity of this alleged memo, we are deeply concerned by news reports that the Department of Justice intends to challenge the application of affirmative action programs in colleges and universities. What is already clear is the Trump Administration’s public record of attacking civil rights protections on multiple fronts.
“As ranking members, we led 86 Members of the House in an amicus brief in support of affirmative action programs in higher education. We were one of nearly 70 organizations to take the same position, including retired Chiefs of Staff of our nation’s Armed Services, leading Fortune 500 companies, academics, 19 state governors, the faith community and many others. The position that we took was ultimately affirmed by the Supreme Court – the consideration of race and ethnicity to achieve diversity in admissions is a constitutional and is a compelling state interest that can be achieved through narrowly tailored means.
“Whether it is the Department of Justice’s decision to examine the use of consent decrees with state and local police departments, which are designed to reduce instances of police brutality and discriminatory treatment; Attorney General Session’s decision to return to the harsh application of mandatory minimum sentences which have been proven to be racially discriminatory and counterproductive to reducing crime; the White House’s so-called election integrity commission which purports to “solve” voter fraud while requesting the most personal data of the Nation’s 200 million registered voters; or efforts to weaken the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) – agencies charged with the enforcement of employment nondiscrimination laws, the Trump administration has not wasted any opportunity to roll back existing civil rights protections for underrepresented minorities.
“Further, the Administration’s reactionary efforts were signaled in the White House’s proposed budget to which reduces or eliminated funding tied to the enforcement of federal civil rights laws. The Trump Administration’s budget undermines the constitutional promise of Brown v. Board of Education by cutting federal funding to support public schools that serve our nation’s poorest students. It proposes elimination of the environmental justice program, gutting the primary tool to examine and address the impact of environmental policies and decisions on communities of color, low-income and tribal communities. And proving the adage “any rights without remedies are no rights at all,” the President’s budget proposes eliminating federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) that provides civil legal aid for low income Americans to help them have their day in court.
“These actions, already on the record, provide a clear, yet unsettling picture of this Administration’s hostile view of the federal government’s role in protecting civil rights.”