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The Justice Department on Thursday accused Yale University of violating federal civil rights law by discriminating against Asian American and white undergraduate hopefuls.

Why it matters: The claim is an extension of the Trump administration's efforts to challenge race-based admissions policies at elite universities, and comes after a two-year investigation in response to complaints from students about the application process at some schools.

  • The Supreme Court has previously ruled on affirmative action, upholding the consideration of race in college admissions, per Reuters.

What they're saying: “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said.

  • “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division. It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin," Dreiband added.
  • The investigation concluded that Asian American and white students have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials."
  • "Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit."

The other side: Yale said it “categorically denies this allegation.”

"Given our university’s commitment to complying with federal law, I am dismayed that the DOJ inexplicably rushed to conclude its investigation without conducting a fully informed analysis, which would have shown that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent," Yale University president Peter Salovey said.

The big picture: The Justice Department previously filed a statement supporting claims that Harvard University discriminates against Asian American applicants in its use of a "personal rating," which evaluates prospective students on traits including likability, courage and kindness.

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Colleges and universities are expecting the lowest foreign enrollment since World War II due to the pandemic’s travel restrictions and the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Foreign students are a vital source of revenue for U.S. universities, which are already suffering other revenue losses because of the pandemic.

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The positions of key GOP senators on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee by next week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just over six weeks out from Election Day.

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that "Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) told Alaska Public Media, "I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election."