A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit accusing Harvard University’s legal journal of discriminating against white people and men when choosing student editors and articles, saying the suit fell “woefully short” of providing enough facts about who was harmed.
A Texas anti-affirmative action group Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences filed the lawsuit last October. A similar Texas-based group called Coalition for Meritocracy at Universities joined the lawsuit in January, adding new allegations regarding Harvard Law School’s faculty hiring policies, according to the Harvard Crimson, the school’s student newspaper.
The lawsuit challenged the Law Review’s “holistic review” policy used to choose 18 of the journal’s 48 editors. Such a review can take into account factors like race, gender, sexuality, physical disability and sexual orientation.
Both groups alleged that “at least one” of their own members is currently a student at Harvard Law and has experienced such discrimination, but declined to identify the students or provide other information about them.
Both the university and the legal journal filed separate motions to dismiss the case in December, alleging that the groups did not provide enough information on those students to make substantial claims. The judge allowed those motions on Thursday.
“In no meaningful way do these [allegations] ‘identify’ members such that their individual standing to pursue claims against any of the defendants might be assessed,” the judge’s motion stated in explaining the dismissal. “For example, without at least some descriptive information, it is impossible to evaluate whether it is plausible that the HLRA applications of the ‘current students’ referenced … were, or will be, impacted by the challenged component of the member-selection policy.”
The lawyer who represented the groups was Jonathan F. Mitchell, a conservative lawyer who served as a Supreme Court clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, worked at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration, and served as a volunteer attorney on the Trump transition team after the 2016 presidential election, according to The New York Times. Trump nominated Mitchell as chairman of the Administrative Conference of the U.S., an agency that advises the government on how to improve administrative workings, though that nomination still awaits Senate confirmation.
The Supreme Court permits institutions of higher education to consider race in admissions decisions but says the decision must be made in a specific way to promote diversity and should be implemented for a limited time.