By Karen Sloan
Jan 26 (Reuters) - The anonymous plaintiff in a race and sex discrimination lawsuit challenging the selection process for New York University School of Law’s flagship law review is seeking class action status for all current and future white, heterosexual male students who hope to participate.
John Doe, as the plaintiff is called in court filings, on Wednesday asked a federal judge to certify the case as a class action before May 10, when the law review’s writing competition begins to determine membership for the following academic year. Student editor and other law review staff positions are prestigious credentials that can open doors to sought-after legal jobs.
Doe’s lawsuit, filed in October in Manhattan federal court, claims the NYU Law Review gives preference to women and minorities in violation of Title VI and Title IX, which prohibit racial and sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds. A judge in November allowed him to proceed with the case anonymously for now.
NYU has hired prominent attorney Roberta Kaplan of Kaplan Hecker & Fink to fight the case. Kaplan, who was in federal court in Manhattan on Friday representing E. Jean Carroll in her defamation trial against former Republican President Donald Trump, could not be reached for comment. An NYU Law spokesperson declined to comment on Doe’s class action bid.
NYU’s motion to dismiss the case is due January 29, though the school called Doe’s suit “baseless” in a motion opposing expedited discovery.
Doe is represented by America First Legal, an organization headed by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller. Conservative lawyer Jonathan Mitchell, who unsuccessfully sued both the NYU Law Review and the Harvard Law Review in 2018 for discrimination, is also on Doe’s legal team. Mitchell did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Doe’s lawsuit is the first legal challenge to law review diversity policies following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision that prohibited race-conscious college and university admissions. It asks the court to enjoin the NYU Law Review from considering “race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity” when selecting editors or staffers.
According to the motion for class action status, figures from the American Bar Association show there are 96 white men in NYU Law’s current class of first-year students. Doe claims that most of those students are "likely to intend to apply" to the law review.
The case is John Doe v. New York University, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:23-cv-10515.
For Doe: Ronald A. Berutti of Murray-Nolan Berutti LLC; Christopher Mills of Spero Law LLC; Jonathan F. Mitchell of Mitchell Law PLLC; Gene P. Hamilton of America First Legal Foundation.
For New York University: Roberta A. Kaplan, Gabrielle E. Tenzer, Amit Jain, Raymond P. Tolentino of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.
Conservative group sues NYU, claiming selection of law journal student staff discriminates
Plaintiff in NYU law review discrimination case may remain anonymous
(Reporting by Karen Sloan)