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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Continues Fight to Remedy Mistreatment of Maryland’s Historically Black Institutions

For Immediate Release December 11, 2018

4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear Arguments from Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Partners in Front of Three-Judge Panel  

RICHMOND, VA –  Today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and  Kirkland & Ellis LLP in an appeal brought by the state of Maryland in The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission, one of the most significant higher education desegregation cases in the last two decades. Maryland is appealing the district court’s determination that the State has violated the constitution by failing to enable Maryland’s four Historically Black Institutions (HBIs) to develop unique and high-demand programs that are able to attract students of all races.  Only 1.4 percent of white students in Maryland higher education go to the HBIs.  The State is also appealing a federal judge’s previous remedial order calling for Maryland to remedy the lack of investment in the State’s historically black colleges and universities, in an effort to resolve a decade-old lawsuit over inequality in public higher education.

“This long-standing litigation is about dismantling dual systems of education in Maryland and remedying decades of programmatic disparities that have infected the system for far too long,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “HBCUs play a critical role in the educational landscape of our country, and with meaningful support and proper funding from the state, they can attract racially diverse pools of students and positively impact students across Maryland.”

The Lawyers’ Committee and Kirkland & Ellis, who each represent plaintiffs in The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, originally brought this case in 2012, arguing Maryland’s failure to dismantle the vestiges of former segregation in the State’s public higher education system violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as required by United States v. Fordice.  The Coalition, which is comprised of students and alumni of Maryland’s HBCUs, called for the State to address its failure to dismantle the vestiges of segregation in its higher education system.

The parties failed to reach a mediated agreement consistent with the trial court’s remedial order to address at long last the systemic disparities in programming between Maryland’s four HBIs and its traditionally white institutions. Today, plaintiffs argue there is no clear error in the district court’s factual conclusions and its legal analysis is fully consistent with Fordice and the State’s own pre-litigation interpretation of the law applicable to higher education desegregation cases.

Read our full appeal here.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

 

Contact

 

Derrick Robinson, Lawyers’ Committee, [email protected], 202-662-8317

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