New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Student pushes for class-action status in Law Review suit

An anonymous NYU Law student claiming the school’s journal discriminates on the basis of race and sex in selecting editors wants to bring his lawsuit to class-action status.
Kevin Wu
(Kevin Wu for WSN)

A first-year law student who filed a complaint against NYU, accusing it and its Law Review of discriminating on the basis of race and sex, is requesting class-action status for all white heterosexual male students — current or future — who intend to apply. The student is accusing the NYU Law Review of providing “preferential treatment” to women, racial minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community when selecting its editors. If class-action status is granted, the case could impact racial consideration for all future applicants.

The student has remained anonymous in the lawsuit since his initial complaint in October, choosing to go by the pseudonym John Doe. He alleged that the journal has violated federal law by considering race and sex, also citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down race-sensitive admissions practices last June, which the university had called “a step backwards.” Doe intends to apply for the NYU Law Review this summer, and is demanding a decision before May 10.

“This lawsuit’s mere conjecture that the NYU Law Review will somehow discriminate this summer amounts to baseless speculation,” university spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement to WSN. “Speculation is not enough to bring a federal lawsuit.”

Federal judge Victor Marrero allowed the student to remain anonymous in a November 2023 decision without providing an explanation. A month later, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law professor Eugene Volokh filed a motion to unseal the document containing the justification for the student’s anonymity, which was granted earlier this month. The document noted the possibility of the student facing harassment because “most people at NYU and at NYU Law School do not share Doe’s beliefs.”

The unsealed document also cited the university’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down race-sensitive college admissions, also known as affirmative action, saying that NYU and its law school have “fully embraced the tenets of ‘anti-racism’ that call for discrimination against white men such as Doe.” 

“This lawsuit pertains to his personal beliefs and characteristics, and he risks significant retaliation from the NYU Law Review, his peers, his professors, NYU administrators and potential employers if his identity is exposed,” the memo reads. “NYU faces no prejudice from Doe’s proceeding under a pseudonym, particularly at this early stage of litigation involving legal claims that do not focus on Doe’s own facts or credibility.”

One of the lawyers representing the student in the suit, Gene Hamilton, is Vice President and General Counsel for the conservative organization America First Legal, headed by senior members of former President Donald Trump’s administration. Jonathan Mitchell, who is also counsel for the student, represented the group Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences in an unsuccessful lawsuit against NYU Law Review and Harvard Law Review in 2018.

Vanderbilt University Law School professor Brian Fitzpatrick said that he thinks the case will be an opportunity to increase discussion on “racial preferences” in higher education. 

“It would be a gale-force wind in the sails of not only this lawsuit, but others,” Fitzpatrick wrote in a statement to WSN. “It would inspire new plaintiffs to help rid higher education of its remaining racial preferences.”

David Bloomfield, a professor of education leadership, law and policy at Brooklyn College and The City University of New York Graduate Center, said he believes the recent lawsuit is “a ploy for publicity.”

“​​I don’t see the point of a class action when, as a plaintiff, his individual merits for law review membership could be ascertained,” Bloomfield wrote in a statement to WSN. “Further, claiming that most white males in his class — leaving out their unknown sexual orientations — will apply to the law review is speculative and unlikely to yield class standing.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Bruna Horvath
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.
Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu, Digital Director
Kaiyu (Kevin) Wu is a senior double-majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication and Journalism. He directs everything digital at WSN. You can directly reach him digitally at [email protected].

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