U.S. Solicitor General Granted Ethics Waiver on Discriminatory Admissions Lawsuit Despite Conflict of Interest with Harvard

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, a Harvard law professor prior to joining the Biden administration, has been granted a waiver to the Biden Ethics Pledge allowing her to work on a lawsuit brought against her former employer by Asian American students.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College is a case brought by students against the school claiming their admissions policies discriminate against Asian Americans. The students, who lost in the U.S. First Circuit, have appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The case is high profile and of considerable importance to the Department and the Administration,” the waiver states. “It raises a constitutional question that may have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on universities across the nation. … The importance of this potentially precedent-making case increases the importance of your participation to the government.”

Without the ethics waiver from the Department of Justice, Prelogar would have been prohibited from working on the case. Government ethics watchdog, Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), tracks public officials who receive ethics waivers. In this case, PPT filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking records on the Solicitor General’s involvement in the case.

The FOIA request, provided to Breitbart News, seeks access to all records dealing with her authorization to work on the court case, all records related to the submission, consideration, and approval of her ethics waiver, and all instances of Prelogar’s reference to the court case.

“Government-wide ethics regulations generally limit the ability of public officials to participate in matters involving their former employer,” the FOIA request states. “This is based on the idea that officials may be partial to or perceived to be partial to the people they just worked with.”

Despite the Trump administration having taken a position in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, Prelogar signed an amicus brief in early December asking the Supreme Court to reject the Students for Fair Admissions appeal.

Prior to her October 28 Senate confirmation to her current post, Prelogar served as acting Solicitor General. In June, the Supreme Court asked her for a brief on the federal government’s position on Students for Fair Admissions, but was forced to delay the appeals hearing as her nomination to Solicitor General forced her out of the acting position.

“While ethics waivers are not uncommon, transparency is vital to ensure the interests of the American public are protected,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain. “The timeline of events around Ms. Prelogar’s waiver and her involvement in this important case raise questions. We’re hopeful that DOJ will quickly and completely provide the requested records.”

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.

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