He Took on Affirmative Action at Harvard. Now He’s Planning More Lawsuits

Edward Blum is taking the fight to corporate America.

(Bloomberg) — The conservative activist who got Harvard to change its affirmative action policies and is suing law firms over diversity fellowships says he plans more legal actions against race-based programs.

Edward Blum, the activist, recently created American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), which has filed lawsuits asking courts to bar diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the venture capital and legal industries. “Programs that are open to only certain races are illegal and unfair,” Blum said via email on Thursday. 

When asked if he had more lawsuits planned, he said, “yes.”

The lawsuits come amid an ongoing effort to challenge DEI efforts across a number of industries, a backlash that has picked up momentum since the US Supreme Court ruled in June that universities can no longer consider race in admissions.

In addition to the AAER actions, a group of former and current journalists this week sued newspaper company Gannett Co., alleging “reverse race discrimination.” And last month, 13 Republican state attorneys general warned the chief executive officers of several large employers against introducing race-based practices in hiring and contracting.

Read more: Conservative Attacks on Diversity Efforts in Corporate America Keep Coming

On Tuesday, AAER filed complaints against two law firms, Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster, over their diversity fellowships. Blum’s group wants the courts to permanently end these programs, which are open to members of historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession.

Earlier this month, AAER sued Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, over a program that awards $20,000 grants to Black women who own small businesses in the US.

To evaluate a policy’s fairness and legality, Blum said via email that he recommended a “‘shoe on the other foot’ test”: “In the case of the Fearless Fund, would a different venture capital fund’s requirement that only white men are eligible for its funding and support be fair and legal?”

In an open letter in support of Fearless Fund signed by more than 70 firms, the organizations noted that Black women received less than 1% of all venture capital funding. “We vehemently oppose this lawsuit,” the letter said. 

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