Morgan Stanley and Princeton warned

I wrote here about what I called “a Princeton-Morgan Stanley joint venture in discrimination.” My reference was to Morgan Stanley’s Freshman Enhancement Program, which is available only to Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and/or LGBTQ college freshmen. All other freshmen need not apply. Princeton participates in the program.

Today, former White House Counsel Boyden Gray sent a letter on behalf of the Project on Fair Representation to Morgan Stanley and Princeton University. It warns them that the Freshman Enhancement Program is illegal. The Project on Fair Representation is led by Edward Blum who also leads Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff in the discrimination suit by Asian-Americans against Harvard.

Gray’s letter is here. It states that “while the program proclaims to serve laudable goals. . .the use of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation discrimination to advance these goals is blatantly illegal and immoral.”

The letter cites two federal statutes. The first is the Civil Rights Act of 1866:

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1866—now codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1981—federal law prohibits all forms of racial discrimination in private contracting. As the late Justice Ginsburg once explained, section 1981 is a “‘sweeping’ law designed to ‘break down all discrimination between black men and white men’ regarding ‘basic civil rights.’” The internship program’s ham-fisted restriction to only certain favored racial and ethnic groups is incompatible with this requirement.

The other statute is the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

[W]hile it is unclear whether interns will be compensated or whether this program is designed to provide a path to employment, if either is the case, then it likely also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race, sex, and sexual orientation discrimination in employment in all but the rarest circumstances. Colleges and universities assisting in these efforts may also be liable as third parties.

Similarly, colleges and universities like Princeton that accept federal funding are also subject to Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity not only in admissions and financial aid but also with respect to academic programs and training opportunities.

I really like this passage:

The program’s existence also bespeaks a broader dysfunction at Morgan Stanley, Princeton, and any other colleges and universities participating in this recruitment program. . . .It is, frankly, astounding that these programs passed internal legal review in light of the clear statutory prohibitions discussed above.

I’m sure that you have felt pressure to ignore such legal prohibitions as many policymakers have argued that “equity” or “parity” demands that we use race and sex discrimination to undo past injustices or to achieve some kind of “ideal” representational balance. But as you must know, claims that “this kind of discrimination is good, actually,” will not hold up in court. If the entities you serve really believe that race and sex discrimination are necessary, you should seek to amend the laws prohibiting these practices rather than engaging in blatant violations of the laws and hoping that social pressure helps you avoid liability. It will not.

And this one:

Morgan Stanley and Princeton are leading institutions in our culture. What you do matters not only because it affects the individuals involved, but because you set an influential example for others. Pandering to activists with “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives like this internship program is actively harming and racializing our already divided country while doing nothing to end the lingering injustices wrought by racist and sexist discrimination in the past.

This is shameful, and you would be well advised to take note and change course now.

People used to argue that the many beneficiaries of racial preferences in college admissions will find the going tough once they leave the shelter of the university and enter the real world where they have to meet the same standards as everyone else. But corporate America is now closely allied with academia when it comes to racial preferences. The Morgan Stanley program demonstrates this, at least at the entry level.

Let’s hope that Morgan Stanley backs away from this discriminatory program and that, if not, the courts shoot it down.

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