The Legal Beat
Not Taking No For An Answer, Law Firm Committed To Dismantling Scholarship for Historically Disenfranchised
Posted on Monday September 26, 2022
Remember that JG Wentworth commercial that had people yelling about how it was their money and that they needed it? Well, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is committed to turning that catchphrase into a legal strategy. It didn’t work the last time — that’s where the commitment comes in.
A conservative law firm said it will appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss its case challenging the constitutionality of a college grant program because it excludes from eligibility some students, including those who are white…State law restricts the grant to African-American, American Indian, Hispanic and some Southeast Asian students.
Dan Lennington, the legal group’s deputy counsel, said WILL would appeal the ruling because of a federal case involving Harvard University that could change the national landscape around race-conscious admissions. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments next month.
“We are confident that ultimately the State of Wisconsin will have to end this race-based scholarship,” he said in a statement.
This is why we can’t have nice things. What’s next? Targeting a mosque offering scholarships to Muslim students because it unfairly excludes Jews and Christians? Is a conservative law firm going to target Duct Tape scholarships because they discriminate against Scotch Tape aficionados? No, and of course they won’t. But the point remains that people come up with arbitrary — sometimes down right goofy — scholarship restrictions all the time. I really think this is about strategic deployment of fact patterns to make it harder for historically disenfranchised folks to get ahead. Its not like there aren’t scholarships for white folks — there are entire guides on how to get tens of thousands of dollars from HBCUs by virtue of their whiteness and conservatives aren’t targeting those folks. This is the Bremerton coach going all the way to the Supreme Court and then not returning to his job once the Establishment Clause was ripped to shreds all over again. And is it going to work? Probably.
This coming Supreme Court calendar will likely have outcomes that set back many programs meant to right wrongs past whose effects are still present: voting protections, affirmative action, and more are expected to be on the cutting block.
To the ~8% of incoming law students that are Black, I wish you luck to those of you in financial need looking for scholarships. For the 63% of incoming law students who are White, it’ll be easier for you to make meritocracy arguments now that fewer folks who don’t share your demographic background will be enrolling.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and by tweet at @WritesForRent.