Attorney General Jeff Sessions Rescinds Affirmative Action, Asylum-Right-to-Work Guidances


Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of twenty-four guidance documents written by previous administrations yesterday, in an effort to do away with regulations he says skirt the rule of law or are otherwise incorrect.

In November 2017 Sessions issued a memorandum to DOJ employees prohibiting the creation of rules that did not follow procedures required by Congress. In accordance with that memorandum, the DOJ has been rescinding guidances Sessions calls “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”

“The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them. When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President. In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government,” Sessions said in announcing the revocations.

“In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law. That’s why in November I banned this practice at the Department and we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law.

“Today we are rescinding 24 more and continuing to put an end to unnecessary or improper rulemaking.”

Several of the revoked guidances deal with the way juveniles are treated in the criminal justice system prohibiting, for example, juvenile inmates from being housed with adult inmates.
One involves a federal program that compensates state and local governments for incarcerating undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes.

Another revolves around warnings issued to individuals such as those with poor credit and the elderly, about predatory home equity and other types of loans.

Two deal with immigrants who are the victims of employment discrimination.

Two grant refugees and asylum seekers the right to work in the U.S.

Many are aimed at recipients of affirmative action policies. Those guidances laid out that while race should never be the sole source in an admission decision for a college, for example, universities could use race as one of several factors in deciding on the admission of a particular applicant, and still be within the law.

The documents behind those memos stated that colleges and universities had a “compelling interest” in “obtaining the benefits that flow from achieving a diverse student body.”

This is the second group of guidance documents a task force set up by President Trump identified for possible repeal, replacement or modification. The task force identified 25 guidances for repeal in December 2017.

Guidance documents, while not legally binding, usually serve as benchmarks for how to interpret and enforce existing law.

Nineteen of the twenty-four guidance documents rescinded yesterday were issued by the Obama-era Justice Department.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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