On the heels of gathering presidents of HBCUs to the White House, the white people’s president, Donald Trump, suggested that a 25 year old law that helps finance construction projects on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities might not be constitutional.
Trump released a signing statement on the new omnibus spending bill specifically singling out the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program as an example of a program “that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.”
Those programs, Trump said, would be treated by his administration “in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the law under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”’
Trump’s statement left advocates for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), who are already asking the White House what it’s supposed to actually mean. Cheryl Smith, senior vice-president of public policy and government affairs at the United Negro College Fund, points out to Politico that HBCU designation isn’t even based on race, “but rather on mission, accreditation status, and the year the institution was established.” Law professor Derek W. Black additionally explained to Politico that the Trump administration seemed to be signaling that it would fight discrimination by withholding funding, but adds that there have been no court decisions or litigation suggesting there was any discrimination regarding these programs in the first place. Black also thought it was especially unusual that Trump would focus on race, ethnicity, and gender — but not religion or disability.