Rabiebna v. Higher Educational Aids Board

Case Name: Rabiebna v. Higher Educational Aids Board

Type of Case: Equality Under the Law

Court: Jefferson County Circuit Court

Case Number: 

Filed On: April 15, 2021

Current Status: 

Press Releases

WILL SUES STATE BOARD FOR RACE DISCRIMINATION

April 15, 2021 |WILL filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court against the Higher Educational Aids Board, a state agency responsible for administering the Minority Undergraduate Retention Program, for violating the Wisconsin Constitution by discriminating based on race and national origin.

The Lawsuit: WILL filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court against the Higher Educational Aids Board, a state agency responsible for administering the Minority Undergraduate Retention Program, for violating the Wisconsin Constitution by discriminating based on race and national origin. WILL represents five Wisconsin taxpayers who object to the state of Wisconsin administering this race-based scholarship program.

Background: The Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board administers the Minority Undergraduate Retention Program, a taxpayer-funded scholarship available to minority undergraduates enrolled in private, nonprofit higher educational institutions or in technical colleges in Wisconsin.

The minority undergraduates eligible for the taxpayer-funded program, according to state law, are: Black American, American Indian, Hispanic, and those specifically from Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia who immigrated after 1975. These narrow racial and national origin criteria mean other students—Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, North African, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, resident aliens from Africa, or White, for example—are ineligible to receive a scholarship.

The eligibility categories in the Minority Undergraduate Retention Program amount to discrimination based on race, national origin, and alienage, a practice clearly forbidden by the Wisconsin Constitution. The state of Wisconsin can offer aid based on need, income-level, family background, or even location – but not race. WILL’s clients are seeking a declaration, from the court, that this program is unconstitutional and an injunction preventing its race-based qualifications.

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

rick@will-law.org

Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

dan@will-law.org

Anthony Lococo

Anthony Lococo

Deputy Counsel

alococo@will-law.org