The Justice Department is dropping a lawsuit accusing Yale University of illegally discriminating against Asian American and White applicants during the admissions process.
In a brief filing with the U.S. District Court in Connecticut on Wednesday, federal prosecutors wrote that the “United States accordingly notices voluntary dismissal of this action, without prejudice.” The lawsuit had been filed under the Trump administration in October.
“Yale is gratified that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped its lawsuit challenging Yale College’s admissions practices,” university spokesperson Karen Peart said in a statement to Fox News. “We are also pleased that the Justice Department has withdrawn its notice of violation of Title VI and its notice of noncompliance.”
“Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity,” she added. “Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree.”
Last summer, the Justice Department had informed Yale in a letter from then-Civil Rights Division official Eric Drieband that it reached the conclusion surrounding its admissions process after a two-year investigation triggered by a complaint from Asian American groups.
“Yale grants substantial, and often determinative, preferences based on race to certain racially-favored applicants and relatively and significantly disfavors other applicants because of their race,” Drieband had said in the letter. “Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants.”
As a condition of “receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer funding,” the letter added that the Ivy League university must agree to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs and activities receiving financial assistance from the federal government.
“The likelihood of admission for Asian American and White applicants who have similar academic credentials is significantly lower than for African American and Hispanic applicants to Yale College,” the letter said. “For the great majority of applicants, Asian American and White applicants have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials.”
The university responded at the time that it “cooperated fully with the DOJ’s investigation” and produced “substantial” information for it, but that it had not finished compiling all the data.
A statement from Yale also had said the university looks “at the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants.”
“We take into consideration a multitude of factors, including their academic achievement, interests, demonstrated leadership, background, success in taking maximum advantage of their secondary school and community resources, and the likelihood that they will contribute to the Yale community and the world.”
In a statement, a Justice Department spokesperson said it was dropping the lawsuit Wednesday “in light of all available facts, circumstances, and legal developments.”
But the spokesperson said the department’s underlying investigation, aimed at ensuring Yale complies with federal anti-discrimination laws, remains ongoing.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.