Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and 20 other state attorneys general sent a letter to the American Bar Association (ABA) on Thursday demanding it immediately stop requiring law schools to treat students and faculty differently based on race as part of the accreditation process.

The ABA serves as the accrediting body for law schools in the U.S.

“Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision which made clear that ‘the core purpose of the Equal Protection Clause’ is ‘doing away with all governmentally imposed discrimination based on race,’” Marshall said. “It’s ironic that an organization committed to a mission of ‘defending liberty and pursuing justice,’ seeks to justify the discrimination against prospective law students based on the color of their skin.”

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 coalition’s letter urges the ABA to comply with federal law and with the ABA’s stated role in providing an ethical foundation for the nation’s legal system.

Because the ABA’s rules govern law school accreditation nationwide, schools must choose whether to deprive applicants of opportunities based on race (and keep their accreditation) or to comply with the Constitution. Forcing schools to walk this tightrope harms them and the applicants who are entitled to these basic constitutional protections, the AGs said.

The letter concludes that even if the intent behind Standard 206’s racial preference mandate is good, it cannot legally 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, according to the letter.

Joining Alabama on the Tennessee-led letter to the American Bar Association are Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Pr24 47 Letter by Caleb Taylor on Scribd

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