Posted on December 6, 2023

Republicans Propose New Office to Enforce Affirmative Action Ban

Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon, December 5, 2023

Congressional Republicans on Tuesday introduced a bill that would create a dedicated office for investigating race discrimination in college admissions, the most dramatic effort yet to enforce the Supreme Court’s ban on affirmative action.

The College Admissions Accountability Act, introduced by Sen. J.D. Vance (R., Ohio) and Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), would establish a special inspector general within the Education Department—separate from the Office of Civil Rights—to probe potential violations of the colorblind standard set forth in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which ruled that race-conscious admissions programs violate the 14th Amendment. The bill would also bar schools that flout the decision from receiving any form of federal aid.

“Every student in America is entitled to equal protection under the law, regardless of their background,” Vance told the Washington Free Beacon. “This bill creates the means necessary to enforce the Court’s decision and hold colleges and universities accountable for illegal discrimination on the basis of race.”

The proposed law comes as universities around the country are combing for loopholes in the affirmative action ban. Some institutions have overhauled their essay prompts to focus on race and identity—even though the Supreme Court said essays couldn’t be used as a work-around—while others have advised faculty not to create a “record” of “discriminatory intent” and warned that socioeconomic preferences don’t “do the trick demographically.”


The proposed bureaucracy, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Unlawful Discrimination in Higher Education, would take direct aim at these evasions. “Following the Court’s ruling, several American colleges and universities issued statements or unveiled new policies at odds with its letter and spirit,” the bill reads. “Institutions of higher education, including their offices of admission, must comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States, as interpreted by the judiciary.”

The bill would create a new mechanism for applicants and university employees to file discrimination claims against admissions departments. Those claims would be investigated by the special inspector general—nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate—who could then recommend enforcement actions, including the revocation of federal funds, to the secretary of education and attorney general.

The office would also submit quarterly reports to Congress on the allegations it has received and what corrective steps have been taken. That means the secretary of education and attorney general, while theoretically free to ignore the office’s recommendations, would face public pressure to lay down the law.

{snip} Though focused on admissions, the bill also covers “financial aid determinations” and “academic programs,” empowering the inspector general to go after scholarshipsfellowships, and research programs that exclude non-minorities.