According to an internal document to the Justice Department's civil rights division obtained by the Times, the new project is recruiting lawyers for "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions". Although the Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action program at University of Texas a year ago, there are several more pending lawsuits against other universities for similar programs, and it's entirely possible that Trump's Justice Department will issue guidance or otherwise weigh in on them.
Abigail Fisher, who challenged the use of race in college admissions, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, on December 9, 2015.
Some opponents of affirmative action argue that the policy results in reverse discrimination; that considering the race of minorities while admitting students, a school will inevitably discriminate against a white student.
The Justice Department is planning a new initiative that could change a program created to bring more minority students to college campuses. "We are appalled but not surprised by this continued assault on civil rights, and Jeff Sessions' determination to sully the reputation of the Department of Justice".
"Now is not the time to slow down on diversity initiatives or deter university leaders from doing the right thing for their communities, campuses and for our nation's future prosperity", King said in a statement.
A civil-rights lawyer, however, told the Times that the project was "deeply disturbing". However, many news outlets and experts both for and against affirmative action policies believe that the announcement was likely referring to supposed discrimination faced by white college students.
In addition, the Department of Education is also weakening its civil rights division, starting with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her pick to head it.
At the same time, because admissions are a zero-sum game, preferences hurt poor whites and even many Asians (who meet admissions standards in disproportionate numbers).
While the report of such a programme has ruffled feathers with liberals in United States, the project is not without its supporters and has been welcomed by some as a long overdue counterbalance to the outdated affirmative action policies.
Gupta, who is now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called the new project "an affront to our values as a country and the very mission of the civil rights division". "The Department of Justice will always review credible allegations of discrimination on the basis of any race".