by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Law journals at Columbia University Law School are delaying their masthead decisions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week outlawing race-based college admissions, a sign that the ban on affirmative action is already having an effect beyond undergraduate programs.
The law school’s office of student services, which coordinates applications to all journals including the flagship Columbia Law Review, said Sunday that journal acceptances had been postponed until the school could verify that they comport with the new, race-blind standard articulated in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard.
“In light of the Supreme Court decision on Thursday, we are working with university leadership to better understand any implications for the journal ranking process,” the office told students in an email. “Because of this, journal acceptances will be delayed until we receive further clarity.”
“We have an obligation,” the office added, “to … ensure that our decision processes are consistent with the law.”
Law journals have long used affirmative action to select student editors as well as articles for publication. The delay suggests that this widespread practice could be on the chopping block as a result of the High Court’s sweeping ruling, which experts say has laid the groundwork for invalidating a host of race-based policies across academia and corporate America.
“It’s almost impossible to avoid the implication that all recipients of federal funds are now subject to the same rule announced in Students for Fair Admissions,” said Dan Morenoff, the executive director of the American Civil Rights Project, which filed an amicus brief in support of the group that sued Harvard. As long as a law review is part of a federally funded university, it faces “the same constraints that the 14th Amendment applies to state entities.”
That could spell trouble for Columbia’s journals in the event of a legal challenge.