Affirmative Action
October 1, 2019

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said in a ruling Tuesday that there "is no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever" when it comes to Harvard University's admission process.

The group that sued Harvard, Students for Fair Admission, argued that the Ivy League school held Asian American applicants to higher admissions standards while giving preference to black and Hispanic applicants, regardless of academic performance. They point to the fact that Asian American applicants consistently receive lower "personal ratings" from the university during the admissions process as the prime example of the school's alleged racial bias.

Burroughs did not see it that way, however. And while she admitted Harvard's application process is far from perfect, she also ruled that there is no proof any admissions decision was "negatively affected by Asian American identity."

Edward Blum, the president of Students for Fair Admission, said in a statement that the group is "disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard's discriminatory admissions policies." They will reportedly appeal the decision, and the case is expected to eventually make it's way up to the Supreme Court, The Guardian reports, as it continues to drive debate around the country about affirmative action. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

April 9, 2019

The Trump administration just scored a victory in its fight against affirmative action.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center will no longer factor in an applicant's race when deciding on admittance to its medical school. Per The Washington Post, Texas Tech's decision is the result of pressure from the White House, which is seeking to "curtail" the use of affirmative action in education, and signals the approach that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will likely take with other schools going forward.

Texas Tech reportedly agreed to the change in February, striking a deal with the U.S. Education Department after its Office for Civil Rights concluded a 14-year-old investigation into the university's use of affirmative action.

In July, the Education Department revoked a set of guidelines implemented under the administration of former President Barack Obama that explained how "schools could legally weigh race as one factor to achieve diversity," despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled on multiple occasions that universities could use affirmative action to increase on-campus diversity. But the Education Department pointed to a loophole in the most recent ruling in 2016, which stipulated that the schools must continually review their affirmative action policies. The Education Department argued that Texas Tech was not doing so, and, therefore, might not have been properly considering other factors, such as socioeconomic status, that could contribute to increased diversity.

The Education Department did not ask Texas Tech to conduct such a review before requiring the elimination of race from the admission process, however, per the Journal. Tim O'Donnell

January 19, 2017

Maybe this is why Rick Perry forgot that he wanted to eliminate the Energy Department in his famous "oops" moment at a 2012 debate.

From The New York Times:

When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.

In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States' nuclear arsenal. [The New York Times]

As Perry could have learned by reading the Energy Department's website — or Wikipedia — the lion's share of the Energy Department budget goes toward maintaining, protecting, and updating the U.S. nuclear arsenal; financing a clutch of prestigious national laboratories; monitoring and countering nuclear proliferation; and managing America's aging nuclear production facilities. "If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, 'I want to be an advocate for energy,'" said Michael McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist close to Perry who worked on Trump's transition team. "If you asked him now, he'd say, 'I'm serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.' It's been a learning curve."

Perry's confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy Committee is Thursday, and he can expect some tough questions to test his quick education. Perry, who has an undergraduate degree in animal sciences, holds the record as the longest-serving governor of Texas, and his 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns were based on the economic success the Lone Star State had under his low-tax, low-regulation policies. His management experience would undoubtedly be a useful asset at any federal agency.

Obama's two energy secretaries had doctorates in physics — the first, Steven Chu, won a Nobel Prize, and outgoing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was chairman of the MIT physics department and director of the university's Laboratory for Nuclear Science. You can read more about Perry's learning curve at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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