WILL Files Lawsuit Against Discriminatory “DEI” State Bar Practices

Supreme Court’s recent Harvard decision has created new opportunities to challenge Wisconsin State Bar practices in violation of the Fourteenth and First Amendments

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a lawsuit against the State Bar of Wisconsin for promoting discriminatory DEI practices including its “Diversity Clerkship Program,” which offers premier internship opportunities based primarily on race.
WILL’s client must pay mandatory and annual State Bar dues, which not only fund this internship program, but also other programs and communications that discriminate against him and thousands of other Wisconsin attorneys.
The Quotes: WILL Associate Counsel, Skylar Croy, stated, “When the government discriminates based on race, it sows more division in our country and violates the Constitution in the process. WILL is standing up against discrimination and holding the State Bar accountable to the rights of its due-paying members.”
WILL Client, Daniel Suhr, also said, “Internships are competitive—as they should be. But when one group is given preferential treatment over the other to apply for these programs, the programs lose competitiveness and hurt all Americans. This also goes against my beliefs entirely. The State Bar should do better and expand these opportunities to all Wisconsin law students.”
Additional Background: Some of Wisconsin’s largest companies, law firms, and government agencies participate in the “Diversity Clerkship Program,” program, including the following: Fiserv, GE Healthcare, Northwestern Mutual Insurance, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, Alliant Energy, Froedtert Health, Kohler Company, the City of Madison, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The University of Wisconsin, which has recently been involved in a public dispute with the Legislature over its DEI program, facilitates the program.
Using the funds of due-paying members to provide invaluable internship experiences to only some law students based on race is a violation of the Constitution and the recent precedent set in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. Judge Carl Ashley, who has promoted the program on behalf of the Bar, even stated that he was aware diversity programs like Diversity Clerkship Program could face legal challenges.

WILL client, Daniel Suhr (pictured to the left), is an accomplished trial and appellate attorney in Wisconsin. He is a State Bar member who objects that his Bar dues are used to administer and promote unconstitutional programs and messages. Like all Wisconsin attorneys, Daniel Suhr must be a member of the Bar and pay hundreds of dollars to it each year just to work in his chosen profession.

Harvard Decision Has Changed the Legal Landscape: The United States Supreme Court recently decided that colleges and universities may no longer use race as a factor in admissions. This practice, commonly called “affirmative action,” was declared unconstitutional in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. That decision, however, has much broader implications: it confirms that federal civil rights laws demand “colorblind” treatment of all individuals in America. Since the Harvard Decision, WILL has launched numerous legal challenges to race-based, discriminatory programs across the country.

About WILL’s Efforts: This lawsuit is part of WILLs nationwide Equality under the law Project. Since 2021, WILL attorneys have represented 55 clients in 18 states. All clients are represented pro bono. Find out more at will-law.org/equality.

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Skylar Croy

Skylar Croy

Associate Counsel

Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

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