The Lawyer Who Sued Harvard on Affirmative Action Is Going After Law Firms

Edward Blum has brought a suit against diversity programs at Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster

(Bloomberg Law) — Edward Blum’s newest anti-affirmative action group sued Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster Tuesday, alleging that diversity fellowships at the firms are unlawful in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning affirmative action.

“This kind of rank discrimination was never lawful, even before SFFA v. Harvard held that colleges cannot use race in admissions,” the suit alleges.

Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Blum founded Students for Fair Admissions, which won the Supreme Court against Harvard and the University of North Carolina where the top court overturned affirmative action. Blum’s newest vehicle, The American Alliance for Equal Rights, filed the lawsuits against the international firms over fellowships that target hiring of diverse candidates. The suit asks the respective courts to permanently bar the firms’ current diversity fellowships.

Since the limitations imposed on race-based admissions, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives have faced heightened scrutiny in the corporate world and legal profession from Republican lawmakers and attorneys general. Last month, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sent law firms a letter warning them that their use of DEI initiatives may be illegal.

Perkins Coie posted on its website “we re-affirm our commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace and legal profession” following the Supreme Court’s decision. The Seattle-founded firm has diversity fellowships for 1L and 2L students from underrepresented backgrounds, according to the firm’s site.

Blum’s two-year-old alliance filed the suit against Perkins Coie in district court in Dallas and the one against Morrison Foerster in Miami district court. Coie has an office in Dallas, which opened in 2010. Morrison opened its Miami office in 2019.

The American Alliance for Equal Rights is continuing Blum’s anti-affirmative action litigation campaign. Earlier this month, the group filed a lawsuit against a Black woman-led venture capital fund, Fearless Fund, for financing startups run by Black women.

The cases are American Alliance for Equal Rights v. Morrison & Foerster, S.D. Fla., No. 1:23-cv-23189, 8/22/23; and American Alliance for Equal Rights v. Perkins Coie, N.D. Tex., No. 3:23-cv-01877, 8/22/23.

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