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The Trump administration said Tuesday that it would not encourage schools to use race as a factor in the admissions process, rescinding Obama-era guidance meant to promote diversity among students.

The guidelines, put in place by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2011 and 2016, put forth legal recommendations that Trump officials contend 'mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than the law allows, ' the Journal reported, citing two people familiar with the plans.

"The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are constitutional, and the Court's written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue", Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement.

"The executive branch can not circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law and-in some instances-stays on the books for decades", Justice Department spokesperson Devin O'Malley told CNN in a statement. "President Trump has indicated he intends to appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court who will declare that affirmative action is unconstitutional in our schools". But the opinion's author, Anthony Kennedy, announced his retirement last week, giving President Donald Trump a chance to replace him with a justice who will be more reliably skeptical of admissions programs that take race and ethnicity into account.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over a series of cases that universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college.

MJ: How does this action compare to what other Republican administrations have done in the past? "The Supreme Court has been consistent over decades in its rulings on lawful use of race in affirmative action and the guidance the Trump administration rescinds today offered nothing more than a clear and practical statement of the law and how to comply with it".

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In August, the Justice Department moved to reallocate resources in an effort to sue colleges and universities over affirmative action policies. For them to take down this guidance right now, at a time when we see far too many incidents of racial violence and deepening tensions, is not the way that the federal government should support colleges and universities that are trying to do this kind of work.

"This is not a change in the law, this is not congressional action or a ruling from the Supreme Court", he said.

At the end of this month, briefs will be filed in a high-profile lawsuit against Harvard University, which argues that the school's consideration of race in admissions has resulted in unconstitutional discrimination against Asian-American applicants.

AB: The law has not changed. These guidances were not talking about court-ordered desegregation or something like that.

The guidance reversed Tuesday provided examples of different educational contexts within which institutions could permissibly consider race and answered questions about how to interpret Supreme Court decisions. The new policy would not have the force of law, but it amounts to the official view of the federal government. Whether that happens and how that happens and who is on the court are all good questions.