The Legal Team Challenging Harvard’s Admissions Policy Comprises Four Former Clarence Thomas Clerks

Four members of the legal team challenging Harvard’s Admissions Policy are former clerks of Justice Clarence Thomas, the second African-American judge appointed to the Supreme Court, who is also considered a member of the Conservative wing.

According to the National Law Journal, William Consovoy and Patrick Strawbridge, partners at Consovoy McCarthy Park, are forming the legal team with Adam Mortara and John Hughes, both partners at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott in the case Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, which challenges the school’s affirmative action policies.

Consovoy and Strawbridge clerked for Thomas in 2008 and 2009. Hughes clerked for the Justice from 2005 to 2006 and Mortara clerked for Thomas in 2002 and 2003.

The case, which is set to go to trial October 15, is alleging that Harvard is active in racially discriminatory admissions policy. The plaintiff is arguing that the Ivy League school’s practices are violating the rights of Asian-American students in favor of African-American and other applicants.

Harvard, which is represented by a team from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, is denying any wrongdoing.

Justice Thomas has always been vocal about his opposition to affirmative action. He wrote the dissenting opinion for Grutter v. Bollinger, where the majority ruled that colleges could use the practice for admissions, saying, “I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators.”

He continued, “A university may not maintain a high admission standard and grant exemptions to favored races.”

He also wrote, “Racial discrimination is not a permissible solution to the self-inflicted wounds of this elitist admissions policy.”

In the 2013 case Fisher v. University Of Texas At Austin, he argued that affirmative action is akin to segregation: “While the University admits that racial discrimination in admissions is not ideal, it asserts that it is a temporary necessity because of the enduring race consciousness of our society. Yet again, the University echoes the hollow justifications advanced by the segregationists.”


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