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Veterans, First Time Advocate Arguing Fate of Affirmative Action

Oct. 29, 2022, 12:07 PM

The six advocates arguing at the Supreme Court over the future of affirmative action in college admissions include high court veterans, a first timer, and attorneys of color.

Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard are scheduled for two hours and 40 minutes of argument on Monday. But with the court’s expanded questioning format, the two cases could go longer.

On the opposite side of the bench, all nine justices will sit for the first case against UNC. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will recuse from the Harvard case due to her close and recent ties to the school.

Here’s a look at the lawyers who will appear in these cases.

Affirmative Action Challengers: Two attorneys from the litigation boutique Consovoy McCarthy will argue for Students for Fair Admissions, the group challenging affirmative action at Harvard and UNC.

Up first in the UNC case is Patrick Strawbridge. In his lone Supreme Court argument in Trump v. Mazars, he won a dispute involving the former president over congressional subpoenas seeking financial information. The former Clarence Thomas clerk specializes in appellate matters ranging from constitutional law to securities regulation to complex commercial disputes, according to his firm bio.

Consovoy’s Cameron Norris will argue for SFFA in the Harvard case. Like his colleague, Norris has argued once before the justices, a unanimous victory in a tax case, CIC Services v. IRS. Norris is also a former Thomas clerk who counts Donald Trump among his former clients. He’s also represented states and the Republican National Committee in election law cases.

Three attorneys will represent the schools and their students. The US through the solicitor general’s office will argue as a friend of the court in favor of affirmative action.

UNC’s Lawyer: North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park will take the lectern for UNC, a public school. He’s one of two attorneys of color arguing. In 2019, Park argued his first and only Supreme Court case in a copyright dispute involving the notorious pirate Blackbeard, winning a unanimous victory for the state in Allen v. Cooper. Park clerked for Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

UNC Students: David Hinojosa, from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will make his Supreme Court debut on behalf of UNC students. Hinojosa, the other attorney of color arguing in support of affirmative action, has a long career in civil rights and educational matters. This includes serving as an attorney and southwest regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Prior to attending law school, Hinojosa was a US Air Force air traffic controller.

Harvard’s Attorney: Veteran Supreme Court lawyer and former US Solicitor General Seth Waxman, of WilmerHale, will argue for Harvard. The Harvard University grad sat on the school’s Board of Overseers, the same position that led to Jackson’s recusal in the case, though they served at different times. Waxman, who was appointed by Bill Clinton to lead the SG’s office, is among the most experienced Supreme Court litigators currently practicing. He’s argued more than 80 cases on a range of topics since 1992.

For the Government: Current US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, another high court veteran, will argue in both cases as an amicus supporting the schools. Prelogar is the second woman to hold the job of the federal government’s top lawyer before the Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of her former boss, now-Justice Elena Kagan. Prelogar clerked for both Kagan and Ginsburg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com