Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray sent a letter on behalf of the Project on Fair Representation to Morgan Stanley and Princeton University on Tuesday, warning them of the illegality of their racially discriminatory internship program.

The letter, sent to Eric Grossman, the Chief Legal Officer of Morgan Stanley, and Ramona E. Romero, the Vice President and General Counsel of Princeton University, warns them that an internship program that requires that an applicant be “a Black, Hispanic, Native American, and/or LGBTQ+ freshman undergraduate student” likely violates the several civil rights laws. The letter explains,

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1866—now codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1981—federal law prohibits all forms of racial discrimination in private contracting. As the late Justice Ginsburg once explained, section 1981 is a “‘sweeping’ law designed to ‘break down all discrimination between black men and white men’ regarding ‘basic civil rights.’” The internship program’s ham-fisted restriction to only certain favored racial and ethnic groups is incompatible with this requirement.

Additionally, if interns are compensated,

then it likely also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race, sex, and sexual orientation discrimination in employment in all but the rarest circumstances. Colleges and universities assisting in these efforts may also be liable as third parties. Similarly, colleges and universities like Princeton that accept federal funding are also subject to Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity not only in admissions and financial aid but also with respect to academic programs and training opportunities.

The letter goes on to explain that it critical for Morgan Stanley and Princeton to stop their ears to the siren song of racially discriminatory policies because they

are leading institutions in our culture. What you do matters not only because it affects the individuals involved, but also because you set an influential example for others. Pandering to activists with “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives like this internship program is actively harming and racializing our already divided country while doing nothing to remedy the injustices wrought by racist and sexist discrimination in the past.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

The Project on Fair Representation is a not-for-profit legal defense fund program that is designed to support litigation that challenges racial and ethnic classifications and preferences in state and federal courts.

Boyden Gray & Associates is a boutique litigation and public policy firm, continuing C. Boyden Gray’s decades of service as counselor to presidents, business leaders, legislators, and regulators on matters of constitutional law, regulatory policy, and international affairs.