U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference announcing the takedown of the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2017 Aaron P. Bernstein/REUTERS

Update: Aug. 3, 2017 12:24 P.M. EST - The Department of Justice issued a statement to International Business Times pushing back on the New York Time's reporting.

From Department of Justice Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores:

“Press reports regarding the personnel posting in the Civil Rights Division have been inaccurate. The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior Administration left unresolved. The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans in a university’s admissions policy and practices. This Department of Justice has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general. The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.”

The New York Times said they stand by their reporting, Thurday.

Original Story:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to investigate affirmative action, according to a report by the New York Times Tuesday. The Times obtained a document that sought lawyers within the department interested in a new initiative that would include “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The report doesn’t spell out that the new initiative would specifically look at how affirmative action has harmed and disadvantaged white students, but affirmative action by design helps non-white students seen to be at a societal disadvantage.

READ: How Affirmative Action In The US Has Evolved Over The Years

If the move comes to fruition, it would be emblematic of the conservative direction Attorney General Jeff Session has been steering the department towards.

“As a policy, DOJ doesn't confirm or deny the existence of a specific investigation,” a department spokesperson told International Business Times.

Affirmative action was upheld in a 2016 case dealing with the University of Texas Austin. The court confirmed that a race-conscious admission, or using race as a factor in determining a student’s profile, was legal.

The Times also reported that it appeared the project would come from the front office of the DOJ, which holds more political appointees, rather than the Educational Opportunities Section, which typically deals with education matters and staffed by longer tenured civil servants.

Affirmative action can be a lightning rod for opinions and the report put the divide on full display on Twitter. Supporters of President Donald Trump saw the prospective investigations as a welcome move, as did conservative-minded users.

However, many outside of conservative Twitter took umbrage with the news and pointed to legacy students, or individuals given preference because their relatives have attended a college, as its own form of affirmative action.

READ: Trump's Possible Use Of Recess Appointment To Replace Sessions Angers Twitter Users

President John F. Kennedy started to lay the groundwork for affirmative action in 1961 when he signed an executive order instructing government agencies to “not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin.”