Government

Rolling Back Obama's Legacy With 24 Rescissions

The Trump administration undid yet more malfeasance from the previous regime's rule-by-fiat.

Michael Swartz · Jul. 6, 2018

Live by the pen and phone, die by the pen and phone. This week, President Donald Trump’s administration undid yet more malfeasance perpetrated under the previous regime’s rule-by-fiat. And leftists are losing their minds. Again.

We start with education admissions practices. One of the most exciting days in a parent’s life is that day a letter comes from the college of their child’s choice — a letter stating that, yes, that child has been accepted into the next incoming freshman class. Unfortunately, some students don’t make this cut due to insufficient grades, test scores, extracurricular activities or other less objective factors.

But when the students in question are academically superior and natural leaders and yet are denied admission when more ordinary students are being accepted because of their race or economic status, that clear-cut discrimination is cause for action. In some cases, aggrieved students — with the aid of an advocacy group — have filed suit. One of these, a lawsuit by a group of Asian-American students, targets Harvard University with a discrimination claim that even the school found to be true through its own investigation. Even so, Harvard continued to downgrade Asian-American applicants anyway — ironically, in the name of “diversity.” Documents unsealed as part of the Harvard suit revealed that the school used a subjective, personality-based rating system to artificially lower the number of Asian-Americans admitted.

That case could eventually be heard by the Supreme Court, but in the meantime it’s prompted the Trump administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to act. This impetus accompanied an earlier executive order from President Trump directing government agencies to scrap wherever possible such guidance as spelled out in the infamous “Dear Colleague” letters administered during Barack Obama’s administration. These executive end-runs were little more than edicts and coercions aimed at institutions of higher learning and lacking legislative input. Their goal? To create a more “diverse” student population solely based on race and economic status.

The rescission of Obama’s direction that diversity is “a compelling state interest” generally means a return to George W. Bush-era policy, which held that the factors of race and economic status should be a last resort in promoting a diverse student body. As Robby Soave at Reason opined, the Bush approach “was consistent with Supreme Court precedent that has permitted affirmative action but narrowly limited its use.”

These admissions regulations were among the biggest changes made by the rescission of 24 previous guidance documents, a decision Sessions announced Tuesday. “The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them,” he said. “When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President.”

“In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government,” explained Sessions as part of a release accompanying the list of rescissions. “In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law. That’s why in November I banned this practice at the Department and we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law,” the AG concluded.

In all, the count of Obama-era guidance documents rescinded is now 49, and Sessions and Co. aren’t through yet. “The [DOJ Regulatory Reform] Task Force is continuing its review of existing guidance documents to repeal, replace, or modify,” Sessions added.

Since the Sessions announcement had the effect of a classic Friday afternoon document dump (coming as it did on the day before a holiday), the caterwauling from the Left wasn’t quite as pronounced — but it was there. Leading the charge was the ACLU, with its Racial Justice Program director Dennis Parker using the occasion to take a gratuitous swipe at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — who was nowhere to be found in the Sessions release.

Meanwhile, ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir played the good old-fashioned race card: “This move from Attorney General Sessions is a concrete signal that there is a war being waged on civil liberties from the highest levels of government,” Shakir whined. “This is another attack by Sessions and President Trump on people of color.” Ironically, Shakir is the son of Pakistani immigrants and attended … Harvard.

Clearly, the greatest lack of diversity on college campuses is the dearth of conservative thought. If these institutions of higher learning are genuinely interested in diversity, they should strive to include among their faculty and staff viewpoints that aren’t strictly held by the Left.

Click here to show comments