ACLU Releases Legal, Legislative, and Advocacy Roadmap to Combat Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Threats Posed by a Second Trump Term

The analysis and roadmap continue ACLU’s 2024 election policy memo series exploring likely policies from a potential Trump or Biden second term.

July 3, 2024 10:00 am

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NEW YORK – Today, as part of its 2024 election policy memo series, the American Civil Liberties Union released the Trump on DEI and Anti-Discrimination Law: Rolling Back the Clock on Racial Justice and Equality memo. The memo includes analysis of the major anti-DEI policies Americans can expect from a possible second Trump administration — along with a roadmap of concrete legal, legislative, and advocacy actions the ACLU would take in response to these policies should the former president win in November and implement them. The full memo can be found here, and an accompanying blog summarizing the memo can be found here.

“Trump and his supporters have leveraged last year’s Supreme Court decision on affirmative action to undermine and create confusion around DEI initiatives – even though DEI and affirmative action are two different issues. If Trump wins a second term, his administration is expected to roll back vital civil rights protections, dismantle DEI policies in both the public and private sectors, and institutionalize a worldview rooted in white supremacy,” said ReNika Moore, director of the Racial Justice Program. “The ACLU will continue to defend vital efforts to counteract historical discrimination and unequal access to opportunities.”

“Trump plans to intensify efforts to eradicate DEI programing and inclusive education, banning books and censoring curricula on race, gender, and the lived experiences and contributions of marginalized groups in classrooms,” said Kim Conway, senior policy counsel. “It’s important for Americans to realize that this is a First Amendment issue, as much as it is a civil rights issue. Trump and his supporters are proposing to control what we think and learn by using the government to censor a viewpoint it doesn’t like out of existence.”

Based on Trump’s own campaign promises – and the detailed policy proposals of Project 2025 – advocates can expect a second Trump administration to attack DEI initiatives in the following ways:

  • Censoring academic discussions about race, gender, and systemic oppression, in violation of the First Amendment, and promising to cut federal funding for schools with curricula that touch on these subjects, while also eliminating school administrator positions that oversee DEI initiatives and reinstating the discredited 1776 Commission, which was a presidential advisory committee created in September 2020 by then President Trump that was tasked with restoring “patriotic education in schools.”
  • Abandoning civil rights enforcement on behalf of individuals from historically marginalized groups, by narrowing the availability of disparate impact liability and creating new legal hurdles to challenge policies and practices that disproportionately harm people of color and other protected groups in the areas of housing, education, health care, and other essential resources.
  • Intensifying right wing attacks on educational, employment, and economic opportunity initiatives, charging federal agencies with investigating “anti-white” civil rights violations, and scaling up “reverse discrimination” cases against equal opportunity efforts aimed at remedying historical discrimination at local and state level, and the private sector.

The ACLU’s roadmap released today outlines multiple routes for defending DEI efforts against these attacks:

  • Litigation challenging these policies in federal court. Legal challenges brought by the ACLU during the first Trump administration stopped illegal policies designed to undermine anti-discrimination efforts and laws, such as his unconstitutional ban on federal trainings on systemic racism and sexism, and his administration’s efforts to undermine the Fair Housing Act.
  • Pushing Congress to consistently vote against anti-DEI bills and efforts to strip federal funding from such programs, and to amplify through hearings and public statements how these programs work and the reasons why these programs remain critical.
  • Working with states and municipalities to advance civil rights protections in the public sector and defend inclusive curricula and the right to learn at the K-12 level.
  • Providing critical guidance and support to institutions and school districts to combat historical discrimination that is still constitutionally sound, despite aggressive messaging to the contrary.

From 2017-2021, the ACLU filed more than 430 legal actions against the Trump administration, including many lawsuits against that administration’s anti-DEI policies — from fair housing to book bans. In the Trump on DEI and Anti-Discrimination Law memo, the ACLU makes the case for why, if he’s elected, the policies Trump and his supporters are proposing on the campaign trail would be far more aggressive than the policies we saw during Trump’s presidency, threatening Black, Latine, Indigenous, and other communities of color. Additionally, the ACLU discusses why it’s imperative for elected officials in Congress and state and local governments, as well as civil society, to mobilize now to begin planning a sustained and coordinated response.

The Trump on DEI and Anti-Discrimination Law memo marks the fourth of seven the ACLU is releasing on policies it expects from a possible second Trump administration. Topics include immigration, LGBTQ rights, abortion, criminal legal system, voting rights, and surveillance, protest, and free speech. Following its focus on policies of a potential second Trump administration, the ACLU will focus on those of a potential second Joe Biden administration. A new memo will be released each week from June through August. All released memos will be available here.

Accompanying blog summarizing the memo can be found here.

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