Affirmative Action Suit Details How Law School Blackballed Accomplished White Men, Opted For Unqualified Black Women

Only 14% of law professor job offers went to white men due to affirmative action that blocked elite scholars in favor of incompetents, lawsuit says
In this photo illustration, a Northwestern University logo seen displayed on a tablet.
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Northwestern Law School made faculty job offers to only three white men in the last three years, passing over intellectual giants in favor of less qualified black females, including one who graduated “near the bottom of her class” and another who plagiarized when writing an exam, according to a blistering lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

Charging that “[f]aculty hiring at American universities is a cesspool of corruption and lawlessness,” the suit was filed by lawyers including Jonathan Mitchell, who was involved in the 2023 Supreme Court case on Harvard University admissions that blocked affirmative action, and signals that similar lawsuits could be in store against colleges across the country.

The lawsuit delves into the details of Northwestern’s recent hiring to paint a picture of affirmative action that is not simply a tie-breaker between equals, but rather the near-total exclusion of highly qualified white males in favor of minorities with weak qualifications, and whose hiring typically ends in disaster.

“For at least the last twelve years, since the installation of then-Dean Daniel Rodriguez, the leadership of Northwestern Law School has propagated and enforced a mandate to hire as many non-white and non-male faculty candidates as possible,” it said.

The lawsuit says it was impossible for even the brightest legal minds to reach a classroom if they were white. Northwestern declined to even interview Eugene Volokh, a “prolific and internationally renowned legal scholar,” for a job, the suit said — adding that Vice Dean Emily Kadens “openly said that Professor Volokh would have been hired at Northwestern had he been anything other than a white man.”

Meanwhile, it hired Destiny Peery, a black woman who graduated from Northwestern Law “near the bottom of her class,” something Northwestern’s faculty was well aware of, and which ordinarily would be an absolute roadblock to being hired as a law professor.

By the time Peery came up for her three-year employment review, where the school decides to get rid of or promote junior faculty, Peery had published almost nothing, but fellow black professor Janice Nadler, who was in charge of the review, misled the committee by falsely claiming old dissertation chapters were actually new work.

After that was exposed, Nadler shifted gears to complain that because of her race, the school had given Peery so many speaking opportunities that she had no time to write. The committee voted to retain Peery, despite being “incensed” by Nadler’s dishonesty, the suit said.

At the five-year mark, when a final decision on tenure is made, Peery had still “failed to produce any scholarship that could warrant a tenured appointment,” and was warned not to seek tenure. Peery then accused “Northwestern of racism for denying her tenure, pretending that she was a victim of race and sex discrimination when racial preferences were the very reason she was hired in the first place,” the suit said.

No other college would put her on its faculty — but Peery found employment at Harvard Law School in a non-teaching position at its “Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice.”

Similarly, Northwestern hired “another unqualified black woman named Candice Player, who (like Peery) failed to obtain tenure after proving herself incapable of producing scholarship that could justify a tenured appointment. Player also struggled in the classroom, and admitted to colleagues that she did not understand the material she was teaching and couldn’t handle the students’ questions. In one of her classes, Player gave a final exam in which she had plagiarized an exam hypothetical from another source, because Player was too lazy to write her own exam question,” the suit continued.

The plagiarism scandal led to her departure from Northwestern and “Player, like Peery, failed to obtain another academic appointment after leaving Northwestern.” She now works as Vice President of Advocacy, Public Policy and Street Outreach at Project HOME in Pennsylvania.

Then-Dean Rodriguez had “ramrodded Player’s appointment through the faculty by threatening to withhold bonuses from any professor who had the temerity to question the wisdom or legality of the appointment. Player would never even have been considered for a faculty appointment at Northwestern if she had been white or a member of a different race, and Player was hired over white male candidates who were vastly more capable and qualified than she was,the suit said.

In 2018, Kimberly Yuracko was appointed dean of the law school at Northwestern in a process that was secret and focused on identity politics and the exclusion of men, with the white female Yuracko beating out a black female critical race theorist, who was runner-up, it added.

In the 2019-2020 school year, Yuracko made a deal with a conservative professor that if the faculty greenlit her problematic appointments, she would see to it that a gay professor, Ilan Wurman, was hired, even though he is white. After her candidates were approved, Wurman was blocked, with then-Associate Dean Sarah Lawsky saying “at a faculty meeting that she opposed Wurman’s appointment to the faculty because he is a white man,” the suit said.

In 2022, the school hired Jamelia Morgan, a black woman from the low-ranked UC Irving with only four years of teaching, and gave her a $900,000 budget to start a “Center for Racial and Disability Justice.” The center’s website hasn’t published a journal article in a year and a blog post in six months, and the suit said it has hosted only two events.

In all, in 2023-24 Northwestern Law made six offers of employment, none of which went to white men. The prior year, it made nine offers, only one of which went to a white man (whose scholarship focused on promoting affirmative action).

In 2021-2022, it made six offers, two of which went to white men–but one offer was made to someone who had “zero chance” of accepting because he taught at a much higher-ranked school, perhaps a maneuver to make the statistics look less anti-white. The other worked in tax law, a specialty where there were few minority options, the suit said.

Accomplished white men like Volokh and Ernie Young, a longtime Duke professor and Harvard Law grad, were “rejected in favor of candidates with mediocre and undistinguished records,” the suit said.

The suit was filed on behalf of a group called Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences, which says it consists of people who have standing to sue because they may have lost out on faculty jobs, represented by lawyers from America First Legal and Stone Hilton in addition to Mitchell’s firm.

It said that for years, administrators have thought they could “flout” laws preventing discrimination based on race, but “the jig is up” after the Supreme Court clamped down on race-based decision-making in a 2023 case on Harvard admissions.

The Northwestern suit was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois against the law school as well as its current dean Hari Osofsky.

Related: ‘Schizophrenic’ Transgender Student Terrorized Top Law School, Ranted About ‘Gavel Dildos’ In His Law Journal

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