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Lawsuit Challenging University of California’s D.E.I. Statements Is Tossed

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A federal judge threw out a lawsuit that challenged the University of California system’s requirement that applicants for faculty positions must file diversity statements.

The court, which issued the ruling on Friday, did not rule on the merits, but said that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because he never actually applied for the open faculty position that he singled out in his suit.

John Haltigan, the plaintiff in the suit, said he would have applied for a position at U.C. Santa Cruz, but that the D.E.I. statement made his application futile.Credit…Michael Vi

Behind the Lawsuit

Diversity statements — also known as diversity, equity and inclusion, or D.E.I., statements — ask candidates seeking a faculty job or promotion to describe how they would contribute to campus diversity.

In his lawsuit, John Haltigan, who has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, said he would have applied to a position at U.C. Santa Cruz, but that the D.E.I. statement made his application futile, since he is “committed to colorblindness and viewpoint diversity.” The lawsuit contended that the requirement acts as a “functional loyalty oath,” violating his rights under the First Amendment.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian group that filed the lawsuit for Dr. Haltigan, did not make him available for an interview. But in a February post on Substack, he wrote that D.E.I. statements have become “a political litmus test” that has eroded diversity of thought in academia.

“Public trust in our universities has been severely diminished as a consequence,” he wrote in the post.

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