Law Schools

Lawsuits target law reviews at Harvard and NYU, saying they favor women and minorities

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A Texas group filed two suits over the weekend alleging that two prominent law reviews violate federal laws by giving preferences to women and minorities when selecting some of their members and choosing articles for publication.

The suits (here and here) target the Harvard Law Review and the New York University Law Review, and were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The plaintiff is a group called Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences, which refers to itself as FASORP, report, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Harvard Crimson.

The suits allege violations of Title VI and Title IX, which bar discrimination on the basis of race and sex in programs that receive federal funds.

According to the suits, NYU’s law review uses a diversity committee to choose 12 of its 50 student members, while Harvard’s law review choses 18 of its 48 new editors through a holistic evaluation in which applicants can indicate their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and any physical disabilities.

The suits say FASORP has associational standing because it is seeking to protect interests that are related to its purpose—seeking to “restore meritocracy at American universities by eliminating the use of race and sex preferences.” According to Bloomberg, the group’s website domain was created on Oct. 6.

The suits also say members of FASORP would have individual standing to sue.

FASORP members who submit articles to the law reviews “are judged by less capable students” because of racial and gender preferences, the suits say. Alumni who belong to FASORP suffer because race and sex preferences dilute law review credentials, according to the suits. In addition, alumni who are minorities or female suffer because their law review credentials are now viewed with suspicion, the suits say, and current students are denied an equal opportunity to compete for law review membership.

The suits seek injunctions barring the law reviews from considering race or gender of authors or prospective members, and barring federal funding for Harvard University and New York University until they renounce the use of “race or sex preferences.” The law reviews should also be permanently enjoined from “selecting any new members or editors without first securing preclearance from this court and from the Secretary of Education, each of whom must certify that the law review’s selection of those new members and editors was based on academic merit and was not in any way affected or influenced by race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” the suits maintain.

Another group, Students for Fair Admissions, has sued Harvard for admissions policies that it says discriminate against Asian Americans. Testimony in that case begins next week in federal court in Boston.

New York University Law School said in a statement that it plans “to strongly defend the Law Review and its policies, and we have confidence in the outcome.”

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