A group of lawyers are taking the Texas State Bar Association to court, saying the agency is violating the US constitution by allocating spots on its board according to race.

Texas law requires the board of directors of the State Bar, a state agency that, under the guidance of the Supreme Court, licenses and regulates Texas attorneys, to include “four minority members” appointed by the organization’s President. “Minorities” are defined as females, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans, or Asian-Americans.

But Ed Blum, President of the Project on Fair Representation, says that the law violates the US Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Blum is representing Greg Gegenheimer, a white Austin-based family law attorney. Their complaint is that state law prohibits Gegenheimer from being appointed to the four board positions solely on account of his race.

“I find it inconceivable that the State of Texas can create leadership positions on the Board of Directors for the State Bar and then exclude me from consideration for these positions solely because of my race and gender, Gegenheimer said. “I look forward to seeing this law declared unconstitutional.”

Blum and the Project on Fair Representation gained national media attention representing Abigail Fisher in a suit against the University of Texas at Austin challenging the university’s race-based admissions policies.

Amongst the group of lawyers representing Gegenheimer is Jonathan Mitchell, a former Texas solicitor general and professor of law at Stanford University.

Texas lawmakers could end the suit early by repealing the unconstitutional racial preferences law when the legislature convenes in January.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.