Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has joined the challenge in a lawsuit that is fighting against what Paxton calls “unconstitutional racial and sex-based quotas.”
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas challenges on constitutional grounds, racial and sex-based quotas for State Bar of Texas board membership.
The plaintiff, Greg Gegenheimer, filed the federal lawsuit on December 5 against the State Bar of Texas board of director members in their official capacities complaining “that the State Bar of Texas is violating the Equal Protection Clause by maintaining a race-and sex-based quota scheme on its Board of Directors.”
Austin lawyer Gegenheimer, a white male, is seeking both “declaratory and injunctive relief against this unconstitutional discrimination.” Gegenheimer says he is a lawyer in good standing with the State Bar of Texas who has never served as a minority director or elected director of the Board of Directors at the State Bar of Texas.
Attorney General Paxton has filed an amicus brief in support of the motion for preliminary injunction where he urges the court to “invalidate the unconstitutional quota system.”
“This is really not a difficult case,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The courts have made clear that the use of racial and sex-based quotas by the government in situations like this is blatantly unconstitutional. Leadership positions should be available to all state bar members based on their merit, not their skin color, ethnicity or sex.”
The State Bar of Texas requires that the board of directors include “four minority member directors.”
Gegenheimer wants to apply for an open director position on the board but under the rules of the State Bar of Texas, only “female, African-American, Hispanic-American, Native American, or Asian-American” individuals are eligible for that position.
Paxton argues in the friend of the court brief:
Diversity is a worthy goal. An organization is strengthened when it can marshal a coalition of diverse thought, experiences, and backgrounds. But discrimination in the pursuit of diversity does a disservice to all involved. And when it comes to the government, discrimination is not only a disservice, it is unconstitutional.
The State Bar has chosen the wrong tool to achieve the benefits of diversity. Instead of trusting its membership to vote for the most qualified candidates to collectively represent their interests, it has chosen to enforce strict racial and sex-based quotas for its leadership. But the State Bar is a government agency, and governmental quotas on race and sex are anathema to equal protection under the law. Quotas make bare the indignity of a naked racial and sex-based classification, because they define an individual’s sole worth based on an immutable trait. In the eyes of the State Bar, you either are or are not a minority member, and that single quality defines whether you can or cannot serve in a specific government role. These quotas are utterly unjustified and patently unconstitutional.