Justice Department denies ‘personnel posting’ reflects new policy on affirmative action

The Justice Department (DOJ ) is refuting a report that it is working on a new directive to pursue inquiries and lawsuits against colleges they determine have engaged in discrimination “against white applicants,” saying today that they are in fact seeking volunteers to investigate an administrative complaint filed by a coalition of dozens of Asian-American associations.

A New York Times story published on Tuesday cited an “internal announcement to the civil rights division” seeking attorneys to work on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” The article said the Trump administration is preparing to redirect DOJ resources “toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”

DOJ Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores refuted the report in a statement Wednesday evening.

“Press reports regarding the personnel posting in the Civil Rights Division have been inaccurate,” she said. “The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior administration left unresolved.

“The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans in a university’s admissions policy and practices. This Department of Justice has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general. The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination,” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the department told ABC News that the job posting that prompted the story “does not reflect a new policy.”

“This was a personnel posting. It does not reflect a new policy or program or any changes to long-standing DOJ policy. Whenever there’s a credible allegation of discrimination on the basis of race, the department will look into it,” a Justice Department official said.

The American Civil Liberties Union reacted earlier today to the report in a statement, saying such action would “mark an alarming shift in direction that threatens the hard-fought progress made by civil rights advocates and the department itself over the past decades.”

ABC News’ Mike Levine contributed to this report.

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