Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Small: Drummond right about bar association

Drummond right about bar association
By Jonathan Small

Is it too much to ask that law schools obey the law? Apparently, the American Bar Association thinks it is.

Fortunately, the ABA is drawing strong pushback, including from Oklahoma’s chief legal law enforcement officer.

Through a June 3 letter drafted by the office of Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and 20 other states’ attorneys general say the standards imposed by the American Bar Association (ABA) for accreditation of law schools violate constitutional prohibitions on discrimination and should be junked.

They note the ABA’s Standard 206 on Diversity and Inclusion effectively “directs law-school administrators to violate both the Constitution and Title VII” of federal law, and ignores the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that declared race-based college admissions to be unconstitutional.

ABA’s Standard 206 “all but compels law schools to consider race in both the admissions and employment contexts,” wrote the attorneys general, including Drummond (emphasis in original).

To remain in good standing, the ABA currently requires law schools to have a “student body that is diverse with respect to gender, race, and ethnicity” and to have a faculty and staff “that are diverse with respect to gender, race, and ethnicity.”

Diversity is not objectional in and of itself, although it’s reasonable to doubt the ABA defines the term to include diversity of thought, such as having both conservatives and liberals teaching law.

But the practical impact of the ABA requirement is to impose some form of quota hiring and race-based admissions in law schools.

Many Americans strongly reject that view and want those positions filled based on merit. And, as the attorneys general note, basing those decisions on race involves illegal discrimination.

As the letter sent by Drummond and other attorneys general bluntly notes, the ABA is currently telling law schools “that if they follow the controlling law, they are not worthy of educating future lawyers.”

The result of the ABA’s stance, put into practice, is nonsense on stilts.

“ABA standards do not carry get-out-of-federal-law-free status, nor does the ABA enjoy immunity from following the laws binding it as an accreditor,” the attorneys general wrote. “By requiring explicitly illegal consideration of race, the ABA is working hard to burden every law school in America with punitive civil-rights litigation.”

State and national bar associations were supposedly instituted to maintain professional standards for attorneys, but they are increasingly turning into political activist groups that try to impose left-wing policies on the general public.

The American Bar Association is at a crossroads. The group can stand up for the rule of law and the principle of color-blindness. Or it can stay on its current path and insist that law schools effectively ignore the law. The latter may keep law schools in the ABA’s good graces, but it will cost them the public’s trust.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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