University of Wisconsin Law School Training Prompts Legal Threat amid Medical School, Journal Walkback

UW Law School
by Greg Piper


The threat of losing federal funding or defending against an expensive lawsuit, for allegedly promoting discrimination against popular punching bags on campus, isn’t dissuading the University of Wisconsin Law School from inculcating students in the dogma of diversity, equity and inclusion.

UW Law required first-year students to participate in a “reorientation” Friday that catechized the same ideologies that prompted doctor and House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Andy Harris to float federal funding cuts to medical schools that force DEI upon students.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty hinted Thursday it would sue UW Law for “pushing racist ideology on law students” if it went through with the mandatory training.

“It would be one thing if the law school proposed an academic debate about such matters,” WILL said, but the “broader implications” of the Supreme Court’s ruling last year against racial preferences in college admissions means the training violates federal law, creates “a racially hostile environment” and harms “individual student dignity.”

“We are still reviewing our options,” associate counsel and UW Law graduate Skylar Croy told Just the News when asked Tuesday whether a suit was forthcoming. But he also pointed out WILL has repeatedly sued the Biden administration “to promote true equality for all and end race-based discrimination.” The SCOTUS ruling “has opened a new legal landscape that we are taking full advantage of.”

After more than a year in court, anti-woke medical advocacy group Do No Harm dismissed its lawsuit against a prominent peer-reviewed academic journal for a “health equity fellowship” that did not explicitly include whites, with the latter claiming whites were never excluded in practice.

Harris, a Maryland Republican, on the “John Solomon Reports” podcast Monday suggested legislation in response to his alma mater and former employer, Johns Hopkins University Medical School, refusing to punish Chief Diversity Officer Sherita Hill Golden for an official email demeaning a wide range of groups as “privileged,” including whites, males, Christians and heterosexuals.

The school said Jan. 11 that Golden’s language “contradicts” its values but emphasized she “has sincerely acknowledged this mistake and retracted the language used in the message.”

Golden issued her own apology that called her privilege definition “overly simplistic and poorly worded […] exclusionary and hurtful to members of our community.”

Johns Hopkins Med, which is located in majority-black Baltimore, didn’t answer Just the News queries on how it would have treated an administrator’s comments deeming blacks privileged. Do No Harm sent a billboard truck to campus deeming Golden’s comments “racism” and is demanding her department’s closure.

It’s not the university’s first time distancing itself from a definition that went viral. Johns Hopkins removed its LGBTQ glossary last year after heavy criticism for defining “lesbian” as a “non-man attracted to non-men” so as to include nonbinary women.

UW Law Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Lauren Devine preceded the mandatory training for first-year students by emailing them documents on “28 common racist attitudes and behaviors that indicate a detour or wrong turn into white guilt, denial or defensiveness,” and a “race timeline worksheet” they must fill out with at least seven “significant life events around race.”

The list of 28 includes: character is more important than color, “black power is dangerous,” it’s enough to teach children that “racism is wrong,” America has eradicated “real racism” in the law, asking to be told when something is racist, and non-indigenous people experiencing spiritual enlightenment at “a sweat lodge.” It claims that whites can never overcome “racist conditioning.”

An anonymous student told WILL that programs like these “make me feel as if I cannot speak openly in my classes, nor with my peers” and shames the student for “not choos[ing] my friends by the color of their skin.”

UW Law told Alan Rozenshtein, a University of Minnesota law professor and senior editor at Lawfare, that the training was a “partial fulfillment” of American Bar Association Standard 303, which requires education on “bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism” to first-years and “at least once again before graduation.” National Jurist said those conditions were added in 2022.

“The session was interactive, with ample opportunities for students to engage in dialogue with each other,” and UW Law did “not expect students to automatically accept the views” they were shown, it said. Rozenshtein called its statement booing character over color “jarring” so soon after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

ABA told Just the News that 303 “does not specify what that [education] should look like,” pointing to its “interpretations” document. The requirement can be met by orientation sessions, lectures, courses and “other educational experiences” but it must convey “their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.”

Do No Harm and Health Affairs publisher Project HOPE, which specializes in international healthcare projects, disagreed over what prompted the academic journal to change the health equity fellow application’s wording on race, and when it happened.

The November 2022 amended complaint on behalf of Do No Harm “Member A” alleged violations of federal and D.C. law for “blocking the creation of contractual relationships because of race” and “publishing racially discriminatory advertisements.” It emphasized Project HOPE “receives millions of federal funds every year” from federal agencies.

The word “must” appears “on a bullet-point list” including the eligibility requirements, which lists “American Indian/Alaskan Native, African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino.” Claiming post-litigation that the fellowship was “equally open to non-Hispanic whites would be inaccurate and misleading,” the suit says.

Project HOPE and Health Affairs filed a motion to dismiss in December 2022 that said Do No Harm lacked legal standing because it doesn’t allege Member A “has been personally subject to discrimination.” They noted the application includes the race option “prefer not to respond.”

But they also insisted Health Affairs has a “First Amendment right to increase the quality and quantity of race-equity research in the journal authored by underrepresented voices,” which “does not equate to unlawful discrimination.”

The most recent major action in the case before dismissal was a list of five “supplemental authorities” Do No Harm filed in October – recent court decisions that back its arguments.

They include the Supreme Court’s racial-preferences ruling and 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling allowing Speech First to sue a university on behalf of anonymous students subject to its “bias policy.”

“It became clear that Health Affairs backed down when the application recently reopened, and the race requirement was eliminated,” a source familiar with the case told Just the News. “The application is only open once per year, so it is unclear when Health Affairs decided to formally reverse course on their unlawful and discriminatory fellowship.”

Project HOPE told Just the News it showed the court that Health Affairs selected prior fellows “who opted not to disclose” their race or ethnicity, and the “application was modified to reflect this.” The journal “never engaged in discrimination of any kind,” and the motion to dismiss was still pending when Do No Harm itself dismissed.

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Greg Piper has covered law and policy for nearly two decades, with a focus on tech companies, civil liberties and higher education.
Photo “Wisconsin Law School Building” by DNerenhausen. CC BY-SA 4.0.





Reprinted with permission from Just the News 

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