Justice Alito Slams Judge for Imposing Race Requirements

The Wall Street Journal discusses a judge who imposed race and gender staffing requirements for law firms representing clients in class action lawsuits. Ted Frank discusses the effect this had on a case where the plaintiff lawyers recieved a huge portion of the settlement.

Public-interest litigator Ted Frank had claimed in a lawsuit that the judge’s mandate tainted the settlement, which included $13 million in fees to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Federal rules of civil procedure allow a district court to con­sider “any . . . matter pertinent to counsel’s ability to fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class.” But Justice Alito said he doubted that the provision “can be stretched to justify the practice at issue here.”

He continued:

It seems quite far-fetched to argue that class counsel cannot fairly and adequately represent a class unless the race and gender of counsel mirror the demographics of the class. Indeed, if the District Court’s rule were taken seriously, it would seriously complicate the appointment process and lead to truly bizarre results. . .

Suppose, for example, that the class consisted of persons who had undergone a particular type of treatment for prostate cancer. Would it be proper for a district judge to favor law firms with a high percentage of male attorneys? Or if the class consisted of persons who had undergone treatment for breast cancer, would it be permissible for a court to favor firms with a high percentage of female lawyers?

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.