Opinion | Justice Goes to Yale

On Thursday the Justice Department put Yale University on notice: If by Aug. 27 the school doesn’t agree to stop discriminating by race in admissions, the U.S. “will be prepared to file a lawsuit to enforce Yale’s Title VI obligations.”

The notice follows a two-year investigation spurred by a complaint from Asian-American groups. Among the findings is that Yale “uses race at multiple points in its admissions process,” and that race is the “determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” In other words, kids who would otherwise be accepted to Yale are denied solely because of skin color.

In his letter to Yale, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband puts it this way: “Asian American and White applicants have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials.” In his press release he added: “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination.”

As a private institution Yale can admit anyone it wants. But Yale accepts millions of taxpayer dollars each year under the condition that it will comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The Supreme Court has said universities can consider race as one factor among many, but Justice’s investigation concludes that Yale’s use of race is “anything but limited.”

The case is timely given that a federal judge ruled last year for Harvard in a similar case, which is on appeal. The Supreme Court will have to speak clearly at last for this discrimination by race to end, but Justice’s warning to Yale is a move in the right direction.

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