WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Project on Fair Representation applauds Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for submitting an amicus brief in support of Greg Gegenheimer, the Austin, Texas lawyer who sued the Texas State Bar for race and sex discrimination in federal court earlier this month.
Under Texas law, the State Bar Board of Directors must include "four minority member directors appointed by the President of the State Bar." The law states that only "female, African-American, Hispanic-American, Native American, or Asian-American" lawyers will be considered for these positions. Mr. Gegenheimer asserts that this law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because there is no justification for imposing these race and gender quotas.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's amicus brief, which was filed last night, supports Mr. Gegenheimer's motion for a preliminary injunction. Attorney General Paxton notes that "The State Bar has chosen the wrong tool to achieve the benefits of diversity. Instead of trusting its membership to vote for the most qualified candidates to collectively represent their interests, it has chosen to enforce strict racial and sex-based quotas for its leadership. But the State Bar is a government agency, and governmental quotas on race and sex are anathema to equal protection under the law. Quotas make bare the indignity of a naked racial and sex-based classification, because they define an individual's sole worth based on an immutable trait. In the eyes of the State Bar, you either are or are not a minority member, and that single quality defines whether you can or cannot serve in a specific government role. These quotas are utterly unjustified and patently unconstitutional."
Despite the Attorney General's position, the Texas State Bar is continuing to defend the law. The Texas State Bar has hired the law firm of Vinson and Elkins to defend its set-asides.
The Project on Fair Representation has provided counsel to Mr. Gegenheimer. They are Mr. Jonathan Mitchell, Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University and a former Texas Solicitor General; and Mr. J. Michael Connolly and Mr. William Consovoy of Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC of Arlington, Virginia.
Contact: Edward Blum
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SOURCE The Project on Fair Representation