The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
"As a multiracial community, we are also compelled to advance racial equity in all aspects of American life. Affirmative action policies are a critical step towards achieving that vision."
August 8, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass more than 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis, I write to express deep concerns about the possibility that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will pursue action against university affirmative action policies.
Recent statements by the Department of Justice indicate that the Civil Rights Division is pursuing an investigation that would undermine affirmative action. As you examine this case and any other related complaints, we urge you to consider the vital role affirmative action policies play in promoting racial diversity in our nation’s colleges and universities. Such policies strengthen educational opportunities for those who have faced and continue to face racial discrimination. A diverse student body benefits students and the institution alike, infusing places of learning with differing views and experiences. Moreover, such policies promote equity in a constitutional manner, as decided by the Supreme Court in cases such as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and Grutter v. Bollinger.
As Jews, our values as well as our historic experience with discrimination inform our understanding of the dangers of persistent inequity. As a multiracial community, we are also compelled to advance racial equity in all aspects of American life. Affirmative action policies are a critical step towards achieving that vision.
Because affirmative action policies are so important, we are deeply concerned by the notion that already stretched resources at the Department of Justice will be redirected toward efforts that undermine a key driver of racial justice. Such actions do not befit the agency responsible for protecting and advancing civil rights in the United States. As the Civil Rights Division conducts this investigation and assesses other complaints, we urge you to maintain the federal government’s support for affirmative action policies and to refrain from bringing legal challenges against policies that promote racial diversity.
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism