On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the admissions processes used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which used race as a factor for consideration, violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In doing so, the Court has taken away the primary tool educational institutions had to address the inequalities that exist today as a result of America’s racist history, and the ruling will have far reaching consequences that go beyond just college admissions. This ruling will reduce the number of minority undergraduate students, narrow the pipeline of diverse students considering law school, and ultimately reduce the number of diverse attorneys in the profession.
The Court’s ruling is deeply disappointing and strikes at the heart of NALP’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. NALP was founded over 50 years ago by representatives from 35 law schools, legal employers, and a bar association to address the rampant discrimination in the legal industry that prevented women, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals from competing equally for legal jobs. While progress has been made, NALP's own data demonstrates that racial inequality still exists in the legal profession, and there is still much work to do. We agree with Justice Sotomayor, who wrote in her dissenting opinion:
“[T]he devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated. The majority’s vision of race neutrality will entrench racial segregation in higher education because racial inequality will persist so long as it is ignored.”
A diverse bar is critical to the legitimacy of the legal profession, the justice system, and the rule of law. NALP will continue to support its members in finding alternative ways to create diverse and talented student bodies and to continue the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that are needed now more than ever.
President, NALP Board of Directors
Nikia L. Gray