DOJ is looking into Harvard admissions practices

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 05: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department September 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions announced that the Trump Administration is ending the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protect those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, with a six-month delay for the Congress to put in replacement legislation.

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The Department of Justice is looking into admission practices at Harvard University, Buzzfeed reports.

Last month, the department signaled that it would follow up on complaints filed by Asian-American student associations who say that affirmative action policies put them at an unfair disadvantage. The watchdog groups American Oversight and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to this issue, and the request was denied, citing an active investigation. The groups had asked for records related to the admissions policies of both Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). In its response to the groups, the Justice Department wrote that there were "no records" responsive to the UNC request, but did not say the same of Harvard. 

In August, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration planned to use resources from the Justice Department civil rights division to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies that may put white applicants at a disadvantage.

In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the right of colleges and universities to use diversity in their admissions criteria.

"Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court's majority opinion, which also cautioned that universities should continue to scrutinize the fairness of race-conscious admissions programs.

CBS News' Paula Reid contributed to this report.