AG Skrmetti Leads Coalition of 21 State AGs Demanding American Bar Association Stop Requiring Law Schools to Engage in Illegal Racial Discrimination

The ABA standard directs law-school administrators to violate both the Constitution and Title VII.
Monday, June 03, 2024 | 03:56pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and 20 of his fellow state attorneys general sent a letter today to the American Bar Association (ABA) demanding the group immediately stop requiring law schools, as part of the accreditation process, to treat students and faculty differently based on race. The ABA serves as the accrediting body for American law schools.

The ABA's policy is set out in Standard 206 of its Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools 2023–2024. The letter explains that Standard 206 cannot be squared with the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (SFFA). The ABA is considering revisions to that Standard in light of SFFA, but the proposed changes continue to include the unlawful requirement that law schools engage in race-based admissions and hiring. The AGs' letter urges the ABA to comply with federal law and with the ABA’s stated commitment to set the legal and ethical foundation for the nation.

“The rule of law cannot long survive if the organization that accredits legal education requires every American law school to ignore the Constitution and civil rights law,” said Attorney General Skrmetti. “The American Bar Association has long pursued the high calling of promoting respect for the law and the integrity of the legal profession, and we call on the organization to recommit to those ideals and ensure that its standards for law schools comport with federal law. If the standards continue to insist on treating students and faculty differently based on the color of their skin, they will burden every law school in America with punitive civil rights litigation.”

The letter highlights that law school accreditation rests on a tightrope walk between Standard 206’s commands and the requirements of federal law. Furthermore, the letter discusses the harms that flow from depriving people of educational and employment opportunities solely because of their race. The letter concludes with the bottom line that no matter how benign the intent behind Standard 206, it cannot lawfully be implemented in its current or revised forms. The Supreme Court has made clear that well-intentioned racial discrimination is just as illegal as malicious discrimination.

Joining Attorney General Skrmetti in this letter to the American Bar Association are attorneys general from the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Lousisana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

To read a copy of the letter, please click here.