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Nonprofit Sues Northwestern University Over Discriminatory Affirmative-Action Hiring Practices

‘Faculty hiring at American universities is a cesspool of corruption and lawlessness,’ Jonathan Mitchell asserts in the lawsuit.

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Whistleblowers from within Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law reported that highly qualified white men were rejected in favor of “mediocre and undistinguished women and racial minorities” in violation of federal anti-discrimination law, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The nonprofit group Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences (FASORP), formed “for the purpose of restoring meritocracy in academia,” is challenging the school’s “affirmative-action” hiring practices in court. Former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan F. Mitchell authored the lawsuit, which alleges Northwestern has violated several federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX

“Faculty hiring at American universities is a cesspool of corruption and lawlessness. For decades, left-wing faculty and administrators have been thumbing their noses at federal anti-discrimination statutes and openly discriminating on account of race and sex when appointing professors,” Mitchell wrote in the lawsuit. “This practice, known as ‘affirmative action,’ is firmly entrenched at institutions of higher learning and aggressively pushed by leftist ideologues on faculty-appointments committees and in university DEI offices. But it is prohibited by federal law, which bans universities that accept federal funds from discriminating on account of race or sex in their hiring decisions.”

Bad Actors

The suit names a variety of individual bad actors as defendants in addition to Northwestern University. These include law school Dean Hari M. Osofsky, Professors Sarah Lawksy, Janice Nadler, and Daniel Rodriguez, and law review student editors Dheven Unni and Jazmyne Denman.

The lawsuit alleges then-Dean Rodriguez created a mandate 12 years ago to “intentionally and consciously discriminate in favor of black, Hispanic, Asian, female, homosexual, and transgender faculty candidates, and against white men who are heterosexual and non-transgender.” The mandate has since been perpetuated by Osofsky and other faculty, according to the lawsuit.

“University faculty and administrators think they can flout these anti-discrimination statutes with impunity because they are rarely sued over their discriminatory hiring practices and the Department of Education looks the other way,” Mitchell wrote. “But now the jig is up.”

The lawsuit names legal scholars who were denied faculty positions at the school. 

Eugene Volokh, a renowned First Amendment scholar and 30-year law professor at UCLA, was blocked from the hiring process by Rodriguez, according to the lawsuit. The filing alleges Vice Dean Emily Kadens “openly said that Professor Volokh would have been hired at Northwestern had he been anything other than a white man.”

Ilan Wurman, a professor of administrative law and constitutional law, was recommended unanimously by Northwestern’s appointment committee for the 2019-2020 hiring cycle. The lawsuit alleges both Lawsky and Nadler openly opposed Wurman’s appointment “because he is a white man.”

Mitchell notes that these professors did not initiate the lawsuit or provide their information, but serve as proof that the university “refuses to even consider hiring white male faculty candidates with stellar credentials. …”

Inept Faculty

The lawsuit also notes the university “eagerly hires mediocre and undistinguished affirmative-action candidates who check the proper diversity boxes.”

“Candidates with preferred identities are awarded substantial advantages and chosen over white men with vastly superior publication records and far more impressive educational and professional credentials,” Mitchell wrote.

The lawsuit lists Destiny Peery as one such hire, stating that she graduated at the bottom of her Northwestern law school class, was granted grade inflation, and was deemed “unqualified for an academic appointment and incapable of producing serious scholarship” by several faculty members. Rodriguez is accused of “threaten[ing] to withhold bonuses” from faculty members who opposed Peery’s appointment. Nadler is accused of lying to faculty to secure Peery’s subsequent promotion, despite her having produced almost no legal scholarship.

“A candidate with a law-school record like Peery’s would not even be considered for a tenure-track position at Northwestern in the absence of racial preferences,” Mitchell wrote. “Peery received her appointment at Northwestern because she is a black woman, and because Northwestern discriminates in favor of blacks (and women) and against white men when hiring its faculty.”

The suit lists a number of other inept hires, including professors accused of committing plagiarism, admitting they did not understand course material, and wasting $900,000 in school funds. 

Corrupt Law Review

Also named in the lawsuit are Unni, editor-in-chief of the Northwestern University Law Review, and Denman, senior equity and inclusion editor at the review. Unni and Denman, both students at the law school, are accused of illegally discriminating against white students and men in the process of selecting articles for publication, members, and editors. 

The discrimination came to a head in the  2023-2024 school year.

“The editors … decided that they would publish an entire issue that would consist only of articles written by black women. No articles written by men or by any non-black person would even be considered for publication in that issue,” Mitchell wrote. “The student editors and members on the Law Review were told that this was done intentionally to promote the careers of these black women academics because of their race and sex.”

Remedy in Court

FASORP is asking the court to require Northwestern to establish a new hiring process “that is based entirely on academic and scholarly merit and that explicitly disavows any consideration of race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression,” along with other relief. 

The lawsuit also states that FASORP has standing to sue any other universities that violate federal anti-discrimination statutes. Mitchell is eager to do so. 

“Every university is doing this, and our client has standing to sue any university we want,” Mitchell told The Federalist. “Any professor who has incriminating evidence should reach out to us.”

Mitchell sent litigation-hold letters to over 100 colleges and universities Tuesday morning. These schools have been advised to retain records related to decision-making in their hiring processes and on their law reviews, with Mitchell warning FASORP “ will be suing other universities” and discarding these records could warrant “significant penalties.”


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