DOJ drops discrimination lawsuit against Yale brought by Trump administration

The Justice Department sued Yale in October over its application process.

February 3, 2021, 6:47 PM

The Department of Justice has dropped a discrimination case against Yale University brought by the Trump administration.

The Justice Department filed notice Wednesday with the district court in Connecticut that it is voluntarily dismissing the lawsuit, filed in October 2020, over the Ivy League institution's application process.

The complaint charged that Yale discriminated against Asian American and white undergraduate applicants.

It also alleged that the university violated Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs that receive federal financial assistance. The Supreme Court has ruled that colleges that receive federal funds can consider an applicants' race, along with other factors, though the complaint alleged that Yale violated Title VI by "subjecting domestic, non-transfer Asian and white applicants to Yale College to unlawful discrimination on the ground of race."

The Justice Department also withdrew its notices to Yale of Title VI violation and noncompliance on Wednesday, university officials said.

PHOTO: An undated photo of Yale University.
An undated photo of Yale University.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

In August 2020, the DOJ demanded that Yale stop using race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-2021 admissions cycle, and gave the university until Aug. 27 to comply with its demands or risk facing a federal lawsuit.

At the time, Yale said it did not plan to change its admissions process. Yale's president, Peter Salovey, called the DOJ's subsequent lawsuit "baseless" and its allegations "based on inaccurate statistics and unfounded conclusions."

A spokesperson said the university was "gratified" on Wednesday that the Justice Department decided to drop the lawsuit.

"Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity," Yale spokesperson Karen Peart said in a statement to ABC News. "Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree."

Peart also said the university was "pleased" the DOJ withdrew its notices of Title VI violation and noncompliance.

Under the Trump administration, the DOJ had also accused Harvard University of discriminating against Asian American students and "engaging in outright racial balancing." A federal judge cleared the school of discrimination in 2019, and an appeal of the ruling was rejected in November.

Students for Fair Admissions, which first brought the lawsuit against Harvard in 2014, said Wednesday it plans to file a new suit challenging Yale’s admissions policies "in the coming days." Edward Blum, president of the advocacy group, said in a statement it was "disappointing" the DOJ dismissed the Yale lawsuit.

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