Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Department of Justice's Lawsuit Against Yale University
October 08, 2020

​​“It is profoundly disturbing that the Department of Justice has launched such an unprecedented judicial attack on one of the nation’s great universities—and by extension all of American higher education. On Aug. 13, the Justice Department demanded that Yale University “must agree not to use race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-2021 undergraduate admissions cycle,” or else it would be sued by the U.S. government. Now, just 26 days before Election Day, the Trump administration has made good on its threat, after Yale forcefully laid out why it believed in its admissions process and understandably declined to stop its admissions staff from doing what the highest court in the land has repeatedly said Yale and other institutions can do: consider applicants’ race and ethnicity as they review and act upon applications this year. In an era when it takes a lot for news to surprise anyone, the Justice Department’s politically motivated lawsuit is shocking and disheartening. 

With its action today, the Justice Department has unapologetically aligned with the repeated, failed attempts by misguided advocacy groups to prevent colleges and universities from considering race as one factor in a holistic admissions review, despite four decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent upholding the principle that institutions have a compelling interest in student body diversity. In recent years, attacks on the University of Texas at Austin have been rejected—twice—by the Supreme Court, and it was only last October when a Massachusetts federal court ruled in favor of Harvard University in a similar case.

No court has even considered yet whether Yale has run afoul of this settled law of the land. But that didn’t stop the Justice Department from telling Yale to halt what it’s doing now, or else. Nothing less than the autonomy of our nation’s higher education institutions and their crucial role as engines of social and economic mobility is at stake. Yale has rightly drawn a line in the sand. We are confident the judicial branch will prevent the administration from crossing it.”

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