Court blocks California LSAT anti-discrimination law

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei issued a preliminary injunction on February 1, blocking enforcement of a recently passed California law that prohibits the Law School Admission Council from alerting law schools when prospective law students receive extra time on the LSAT.

Preliminary injunction granted
Preliminary injunction granted

For years, disability activists have taken issue with a practice by the LSAC, commonly known as “flagging,” which they contend unfairly stigmatizes students with disabilities who passed the test, making it less likely they will be accepted to law schools.

Specifically, when sending information to law schools regarding students’ testing scores, the LSAC includes a cautionary statement: that the results “should be interpreted with great sensitivity and flexibility.”

LSAC also does not include a percentile rank for these students’ scores, further distinguishing these students from their peers solely on the basis of their disabilities.

This past fall, the California legislature passed a bill outlawing the practice. The new law went into effect January 1, prompting a lawsuit from the LSAC three days later alleging the law is unconstitutional because it does not apply to other testing agencies and violates the First Amendment.

In the preliminary injunction, Judge Cadei did not address the freedom of speech issue, but stated he thought the LSAC would likely succeed on its other claims.

“The legislature’s legitimate interest in prohibiting discrimination is not in dispute,” Cadei wrote in the injunction, according to an article in the National Law Journal. “However, legislation that seeks to further this interest must not single out one particular entity for regulation without a rational basis for doing so.”

As a result, the new law will not affect test takers at the LSAT’s February 9 testing date, the first since the law went into effect. All students looking to attended an American Bar Association-approved law school, the only avenue to become a licensed lawyer in the United States, are required to take the LSAT.

With the notable exception of the Medical College Admission Test, almost every other standardized test eliminated the practice of “flagging” a decade ago.

The LSAC is also currently fighting a class-action lawsuit accusing it of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to properly accommodate prospective students with disabilities. The Department of Justice intervened in the lawsuit in October.