21 attorneys general fight race-based American Bar Association rule

(The Center Square) – Tennessee is leading a 21-state fight to remove race-based criteria from the American Bar Association’s accreditation process.

The ABA is the accrediting body for law schools in the U.S. and has a current rule  being considered for revision as the state attorneys general say it compels law schools to consider race in both the admissions and employment contexts.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti wrote a letter to the ABA’s council signed by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia asking for changes to the rule.

The letter cites the Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, which does not allow for race-based discrimination in admissions.

“The rule of law cannot long survive if the organization that accredits legal education requires every American law school to ignore the Constitution and civil rights law,” Skrmetti said in a statement. “The American Bar Association has long pursued the high calling of promoting respect for the law and the integrity of the legal profession, and we call on the organization to recommit to those ideals and ensure that its standards for law schools comport with federal law.”

The letter said that well-intentioned racial discrimination is looked at the same as malicious discrimination.

“If the standards continue to insist on treating students and faculty differently based on the color of their skin, they will burden every law school in America with punitive civil rights litigation,” Skrmetti said.