Legal group sues Gov. Walz over racial quotas on state board

It's the latest legal challenge against race-based policies in the United States.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a May 9, 2024 press conference. (Office of Gov. Tim Walz/Flickr)

The American Alliance for Equal Rights is suing Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in federal court over race-based appointments to the Minnesota Board of Social Work.

The lawsuit, filed May 15 in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, mentions two unnamed state residents — a licensed social worker who is eligible for one of the board’s social worker positions and a layperson who is eligible for a citizen position — who say they’ve been denied an equal opportunity to be named as board members because of the color of their skin.

The complaint asserts that the two residents do not have an equal opportunity to fill openings on the Minnesota Board of Social Work due to a policy that requires five of its 15 members to be from a “community of color” or “an underrepresented community.”

All seats on the board are four-year terms.

As cited in the complaint, Minnesota law defines an underrepresented community as “a group that is not represented in the majority with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical ability.”

Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the American Alliance for Equal Rights, declined to confirm whether the social worker and layperson are white, saying in a statement to The Epoch Times that “they meet all the Board’s membership requirements except the race-based requirement.”

They are both identified as women in the lawsuit and as members of the American Alliance for Equal Rights.

Other state boards

Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Brandon Beyer told The Epoch Times that the Minnesota Board of Social Work is just one of many state boards with racial quotas.

“Minnesota cannot use race to disqualify or disfavor individuals from public service. Race quotas are unjust, demeaning, and unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment,” he said.  “People should be treated as individuals, not as members of a group they did not choose.”

The governor’s office did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

The complaint accuses Mr. Walz’s administration of violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which it says requires states to treat everyone as being “created equal.”

“But Governor Walz is ignoring this fact and allowing race-based appointments on Minnesota’s Board of Social Work and denying opportunities to those who don’t fit the state’s racial criteria,” the complaint states.

In an October 2023 report, titled “Public Service Denied: How Discriminatory Mandates Prevent Qualified Individuals from Serving on Public Boards,” the Pacific Legal Foundation identified 25 states with administrations that were filling openings on various government boards based on racial quotas.

Some of the dozens of government boards with racial quotas cited in the report include the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, the North Carolina Medical Board, and the Oregon Board of Optometry.

Federal policies on race

In February 2023, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to implement a whole-of-government racial equity policy for hiring and appointing personnel in federal agencies.

Like the Minnesota policy, the president’s policy specifically cites “underserved communities.”

“Achieving racial equity and support for underserved communities is not a one-time project,” the executive order states. “It must be a multi-generational commitment, and it must remain the responsibility of agencies across the Federal Government.”

In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6–3 decision that Harvard College and the University of North Carolina were violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by using race as a determining factor in their admissions processes.

“Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s majority opinion.

At a press conference the day the ruling was issued, President Biden slammed the ruling, saying “we cannot let this decision be the last word.”

The nonprofit group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) brought the case against the universities. The group has filed similar complaints against the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and The University of Texas.

The American Alliance for Equal Rights, the same group that filed the suit in Minnesota, filed a federal discrimination suit in February against the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Latino in Washington.

According to that complaint, the taxpayer-funded museum has hired only Latinos as part of its intern program and specifically states that its internships are “designed to increase hands-on training opportunities for Latina, Latino, and Latinx-identifying undergraduate students.”

Edward Blum, president of the American Alliance for Equal Rights, said in a statement announcing the suit that the museum’s policy was an example of “unfair and illegal practices” used by the government to create “racial classifications and preferences” in public policies.

This article was originally published at The Epoch Times


Alice Giordano | The Epoch Times

Alice Giordano is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times. She is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and the New England bureau of The New York Times.