Trump probably won't find affirmative action in Florida schools, thanks to Jeb Bush
The Trump administration's potential shake-up of college admissions policies that consider an applicant's race likely wouldn't have much of an impact in Florida.
That's because schools in the Sunshine State haven't used race as a factor in admissions for almost two decades, dating back to Gov. Jeb Bush's controversial executive order in 1999.
"Trust me, there were a lot of people upset about this," Bush said in 2015 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, recalling his move to eliminate racial preference in admissions. He called the old, race-conscious system "discriminatory."
The Trump administration appears to agree.
An internal memo obtained by the New York Times indicates that the Justice Department is redirecting resources toward investigating and even suing universities it deems discriminatory — including against white applicants.
The memo sought lawyers to work on a new effort targeting "intentional race-based discrimination." The Times cited supporters and critics alike who anticipated that the department could bring the hammer down on programs designed to benefit black and Hispanic students, who are generally less represented on college campuses.
Critics immediately denounced the memo as a sign the Justice Department was absconding its role in defending civil rights. The American Association of University Professors, for instance, defended programs that help minority students, citing federal data that showed no significant change in the gap between blacks and whites in college enrollment between 2003 and 2013.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal linked the memo to the agency's plan to look into an affirmative-action complaint out of Harvard that claims the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants. A Justice Department official told the Journal there is no indication of a broad policy change, despite concerns, and that the agency "is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination."
Florida already forbids public universities to consider the "race, color, national origin, disability, or sex" of its applicants, according to a directive from the state Board of Governors.