Conservative Legal Group Sues Major Law Firms Over Diversity Fellowships

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Brandon Poulter Contributor
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American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), a conservative legal group, sued two major law firms Tuesday, alleging the firms’ diversity fellowships violated the law, according to court documents.

The lawsuits, filed against Perkins Coie, a Democratic law firm that previously employed Democratic elections lawyer Marc Elias, and major financial law firm Morrison & Foerster, allege that both firms’ diversity fellowships are violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Edward Blum, the president of AAER, previously formed Students for Fair Admissions, a non-profit student’s rights group that sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which resulted in race-based admissions being banned by the Supreme Court. (RELATED: Colleges Skirt Supreme Court Ruling Barring Race-Based Admissions By Asking About ‘Identity’)

“Morrison has been racially discriminating against future lawyers for more than a decade,” the lawsuit against Morrison reads. “The firm’s Keith Wetmore 1L Fellowship for Excellence, Diversity, and Inclusion excludes certain applicants based on their skin color.”

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 31: Edward Blum, a long-time opponent of affirmative action in higher education and founder of Students for Fair Admissions, leaves the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina on October 31, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Excluding students from these esteemed fellowships because they are the wrong race is unfair, polarizing and illegal. Law firms that have racially-exclusive programs should immediately make them available to all applicants, regardless of their race,” Blum said in a press release.

The lawsuit against Perkins Coie claims their “‘diversity fellowships’ for 1Ls and 2Ls” discriminate on the basis of race and violates Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which states that all people should have “full and equal benefit of all laws.”

Applicants to these scholarships for Perkins Coie do not qualify unless they are “students of color,” “students who identify as LGBTQ+,” or “students with disabilities,” according to the lawsuit. Applicants for the Morrison & Foerster scholarship don’t qualify unless they are “African American/Black, Latinx, Native Americans/Native Alaskans, and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“In dozens of polls, nearly 75-percent of all Americans, including majorities of blacks and Hispanics, believe a job applicant’s race should not be a factor in hiring or promotion decisions. These law firms are fostering policies that diminish individuals’ unique qualifications and accomplishments,” Blum continued.

AAER, Perkins Coie and Morrison & Foerster did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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