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No Racial Quotas Needed at Law Schools: American Bar Association

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The American Bar Association (ABA) will no longer require law schools to impose strict racial enrollment quotas to maintain accreditation.

The proposal, first made public in May 2021, would have required law schools to submit yearly progress reports on minority enrollment to the ABA. Law schools would have run the risk of losing their accreditation if they did not increase the enrollment of “underrepresented groups.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported that the proposal went through three rounds of changes before the association’s house of delegates ultimately decided to withdraw it. However, they did not rule out revisiting it in the future. 

A statement that received criticism from many in the legal circle — including from prominent colleges — was in an early draft cautioning that US anti-discrimination statutes were “not a basis” for “non-compliance” with the diversity requirement.

Ten Yale Law School professors said in a public statement in June 2021 that the proposal “instructs schools to risk violating state or federal law in order to retain accreditation,” The Washington Free Beacon reported. 

According to a document from the Bar Association summarizing the criticism it received, law professors were voicing “legal issues” about the “use of racial balancing or quotas” as recently as February.

Road to Equality?

The decision to abandon the proposal comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in the historic affirmative action case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which may outlaw racial preferences in higher education. 

The ABA, which accredits nearly all law schools in the US, has also raised concerns about getting rid of the LSAT, which some claim discriminates against minority applicants. 

In addition, over the objections of law professors who claimed the rule would harm academic freedom, it decided in February to mandate that law schools teach students “on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.”

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