Yeomans: Side-Stepping the Bureaucracy on Affirmative Action

Press Release

Issues

Racial Equity


Washington, D.C., December 5, 2017 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, “Side-Stepping the Bureaucracy on Affirmative Action,” AFJ’s Ronald Goldfarb Fellow for Justice, Bill Yeomans, illustrates how the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s intention to investigate affirmative action in higher education is “emblematic of the Trump administration’s effort to undermine policies designed to promote inclusion and diversity” and an “example of the importance of procedural regularity in the administration of justice.”

“To circumvent the career bureaucracy, the Trump administration followed a previously-used path: it pulled the investigation from its usual place, put it under the direct control of political appointees, and recruited like-minded career lawyers to work with them,” writes Yeomans. “The Justice Department has jurisdiction over the complaint because it makes grants to Harvard through its Office of Justice Programs (OJP). That office has initial responsibility for ensuring that the recipients of its funds do not discriminate. In this instance, OJP delegated authority for the investigation to CRT. Normally, either the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section or, more likely, the Education Section of CRT would conduct the investigation.”

Ultimately, “the procedurally-irregular involvement of political appointees at this level of law enforcement risks undermining its legitimacy,” warns Yeomans. “Whenever political appointees step in to take responsibility away from career lawyers, concern arises that politics will subdue the law.”

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at laurie@afj.org or 202-464-7367.