Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.


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Summary of Recent CEO Achievements

The Center for Equal Opportunity recently prepared for a donor a one-page summary of our achievements over the past twelve months, and I’d like to share it with you.  It makes clear that CEO, a very lean organization, really punches above its weight, and gives our supporters unmatched bang for the buck.

2016-2017 CEO Activities Report

In addition to the Center for Equal Opportunity’s speaking on campuses and other venues, media outreach, and general research and writing (in National Review Online, Commentary Magazine, The New York Times, and other magazines, newspapers, and publications), here are just a few highlights of CEO’s work this past year.  We should note first, however, that in September we hired former Reagan administration official, author, and prominent affirmative action critic, Terry Eastland, as our new senior fellow. He will be working on a variety of anti-preference projects in the coming weeks and months. In some of them, he will join forces with CEO research fellow Althea Nagai, who published an important article on microaggressions this year and will publish another important article on “unconscious bias” in December.

Trump Administration – CEO has worked with the Trump administration to make executive branch appointments and fashion policies consistent with colorblind law. We feel we have had success in both areas so far (we were prominently quoted in a New York Times front-page story supporting the administration’s investigation of racially preferential university admissions), but more remains to be done. One example: As discussed later, CEO plays an important role on a Regulatory Transparency Project committee that has recommended withdrawal of Obama administration “Dear Colleague” letters regarding transgender students (done), campus sexual assault (done), and the disparate-impact approach to school discipline (pending).

Making the Most of Fisher v. University of Texas–This case challenging racial preferences in student admissions relied on a legal theory we developed. CEO was heavily involved in every aspect of the case and was a prominent media presence. The decision that the Supreme Court handed down was ultimately a disappointment, but Justice Kennedy’s decision contained many hedges and limitations, and it did not overrule earlier decisions by the Court limiting racial preferences.  The bottom line is that the Court’s decision leaves plenty of room for future challenges to racial preference policies at other institutions—and at UT itself for that matter (it’s been sued now in state court). We are in touch with state legislators about the possibility of legislation banning racial preferences which the Court has explicitly upheld (as we had urged it to). Mr. Clegg explained to the media—and to college officials at a conference last fall sponsored by Inside Higher Ed and in essays published there, including one this fall—that CEO will be watching universities to ensure they follow the law. We are in touch with a number of allies about FOIA requests and other initiatives.

More Court Cases – We worked with Pacific Legal Foundation regarding its recent cert petition in a case challenging racial preferences in contracting, and with Southeastern Legal Foundation in a federal appellate case involving interminable school desegregation orders that needlessly thwart local control of education. We are also now working on a wide variety of cases involving the defense of voter ID requirements, where we argue in particular to limit the use of the disparate-impact approach, and were in two Supreme Court cases that involved redistricting issues, where we seek to minimize the use of race.  In all these cases we have joined and helped write amicus briefs with our allies.

Federal Register – We review this every day and file formal comments on proposed rules and regulations.  We have succeeded in removing racially preferential language in a wide variety of programs. 

Lawmaking (With and Without Congress)– Consistent with our nonprofit status, we continue to play a key role in publicizing objectionable legislation (in particular, post–Shelby County voting bills)—and, relatedly and more and more frequently, executive branch efforts to “legislate” without Congress.  We are also opposing a pending proposal (carried over from the Obama administration) to expand the federal government’s use of racial classifications in its programs.  At both the federal and state level, we have been extremely active this year in explaining to the public why the automatic re-enfranchisement of felons is a bad idea, and why racial disparities do not prove racial discrimination in areas like law enforcement and school discipline.

Contracting – We have sent memoranda to a wide variety of local governments—and been in touch with local officials—warning them not to use racial preferences; as noted above, we are also involved as amici in litigation, and have advised other potential litigants; and we are working with Hill staff to commission a GAO study on the (legally dubious) use of such preferences.

Coordination and Clearinghouse Finally, the Center for Equal Opportunity plays an important role in disseminating information on our issues to other conservative groups (for that matter, we also serve as an “early warning system” for conservatives on nonracial issues, like sexual-assault and free-speech issues on campus and sexual identity/bathroom access).   For instance, it began and continues to co-host (with the Heritage Foundation) a monthly Civil Rights Working Group lunch attended by like-minded organizations, congressional staff, and other government officials.  Mr. Clegg draws up the meeting’s agenda and leads the discussion.  He also leads the discussion of equal protection issues at the Heritage Foundation’s semiannual Legal Strategy Forum, and advises individuals and organizations that have run afoul of politically correct (and racially discriminatory) policies.  Equally valuable is Mr. Clegg’s work over the years on the Executive Committee of the Federalist Society’s civil rights practice group; both he and Ms. Chavez speak frequently to Federalist Society student and lawyer chapters. Ms. Chavez is chairing the committee on “Race and Sex” in the Federalist Society’s new Regulatory Transparency Project; Mr. Clegg is also on the committee.