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Harvard University's campus. Photo: Brooks Kraft/Corbis via Getty Images

The Trump administration plans to tell schools not to consider race as a factor for admissions standards, discontinuing a policy that the Obama administration adopted as an attempt to increase diversity at colleges and high schools, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The reversal of affirmative action coincides with several similar announcements by the Justice Department, which has been reevaluating past guidelines. The new policy will revert back to what was in place during George W. Bush's administration, when officials told schools to ensure "race-neutral methods" in the college acceptance process, or elementary and secondary school selections.

The details
  • The DOJ revoked seven policy guidances from the Education Department's civil rights division on Tuesday.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions said policies, like Obama-era affirmative action, could push the DOJ to go beyond the law, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court, Justice Department spokesman Devin M. O’Malley, told NYT.
  • A senior Justice Department official said "rolling back guidance is not the same thing as a change of law, so that the decision to rescind technically would not have a legal effect on how the government defends or challenges affirmative-action related issues."
By the numbers

The overall perception of affirmative action has continued to be positive — 71% of Americans, surveyed in October 2017, said they believe it's a good thing, according to a Pew Research Center study.

  • Along party lines, roughly 50% of Republicans support affirmative action, compared to 84% of Democrats.
What's next

The Justice Department is investigating if Harvard University is illegally discriminating against Asian-American students' admission processes.

  • In June, documents filed by the Students for Fair Admissions, a group representing Asian-American students that is suing Harvard for bias, accused the university of consistently rating Asian students lower on traits like likability, courage, and kindness during the application process.
  • The other side: Harvard said the school "does not discriminate against applicants from any group, including Asian-Americans, whose rate of admission has grown 29 percent over the last decade."

Go deeper

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.