Task Force Chaired by Jeh Johnson, Brad Karp To Review Legal Strategies for Maintaining Diversity in Wake of U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action
Brad Karp and Jeh Johnson
The New York State Bar Association has launched a task force to recommend how colleges and businesses can maintain diversity in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on affirmative action.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina that decades of race-conscious policies at those universities violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment will have far-reaching implications beyond academia, said Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association.
“Businesses – including law firms – are worried about the legitimacy of corporate diversity initiatives. This could also impact governmental programs that require quotas such as minority business enterprise requirements,” Lewis said. “We want to prepare our members, clients and lawyers throughout the state and nation for any eventuality.”
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who was the first African American elected to partnership at Paul, Weiss in 1993, and Brad Karp, chairman of the firm, will co-chair the task force.
“For all my professional and personal life, I have seen the benefits of a diverse environment. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, we must find the path forward,” he said. “Our task is to identity ways consistent with today’s decision to continue to foster an integrated, not a segregated, America.”
Karp, who speaks and writes frequently about pressing social justice issues, said the decision in favor of Students for Fair Admissions will spur even more high-profile legal challenges to corporate diversity programs, which are already on the rise.
Karp said, “Our long history of breaking down barriers has taught us that diversity of thought makes our colleges, our businesses, our law firms and our courts stronger. We will never achieve true equity in our society if we are willing to sacrifice diversity. Preserving diversity by all legal means is a social imperative.”