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Harvard Beats Claim It Dumbs Down Law Review for Race and Gender

Aug. 8, 2019, 8:13 PM

Harvard University won dismissal of a suit claiming it illegally uses race and gender in selecting students for its elite Law Review.

Faculty, Alumni and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences, a Texas group that seeks “to restore meritocracy at American universities by eliminating the use of race and sex preferences,” sued Harvard in October, claiming it discriminates against white male applicants and authors and that the Law Review suffers for it.

On Aug. 8, U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin in Boston dismissed the suit for failing to identify any of the group’s members, making it impossible to determine whether they would be affected by the alleged discriminatory policies. He gave the group 30 days to file a new complaint addressing the standing issues.

The plaintiffs also sued New York University, which is seeking to have the suit dismissed. A judge in Manhattan hasn’t yet ruled.

Jonathan F. Mitchell, a 2001 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School who filed the cases, didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment on the dismissal.

In staffing most of its spots, the Law Review considers such basic criteria as grades and performance in a writing competition, but gender and race are factors for other openings. Membership can boost a student’s prospects for a prestigious judicial clerkship and a high-paying legal job.

The suits come amid growing scrutiny of affirmative action in higher education. Another federal judge in Boston is due to rule on a lawsuit, spearheaded by the affirmative action opponent Edward Blum, that alleges Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions, and the U.S. Justice Department has investigated claims of admissions bias at both Harvard and Yale.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net; Peter Jeffrey

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