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Expelled White Law Student Allowed to Pursue Discrimination Lawsuit Against Howard University School of Law
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A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that a white law student, expelled from Howard University School of Law, a historically Black institution, may proceed with his discrimination lawsuit against the school, though on narrower grounds.

Judge’s Decision

Judge Trevor McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed most of the claims brought by Michael Newman against Howard Law and various administrators. However, the judge allowed limited claims of defamation, breach of contract, and race discrimination related to Newman’s scholarship to move forward.

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Lawsuit Allegations

Newman, representing himself, initiated the lawsuit in January 2023, alleging racist abuse and wrongful expulsion from the school in 2022. He claimed that clashes with classmates and administrators, often over comments they found inflammatory or offensive, led to his expulsion.

Dismissed Claims

The judge dismissed most of Newman’s contract and discrimination claims, as well as his claims of retaliation, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Response from Howard University

Interim law dean Lisa A. Crooms-Robinson and Crowell & Moring partner Amanda Shafer Berman, representing Howard University defendants, did not respond to requests for comment.

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In its motion to dismiss, the university stated that disciplinary action against Newman was taken for reasons unrelated to his race, citing misuse of school email and listserv despite warnings.

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Details of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit outlines a series of messages posted by Newman to law school listservs, group chats, or emails related to race, which classmates objected to. Newman claimed classmates called him racist names like “the White Panther.”

Administrators warned Newman about his disruptive posts, leading to discrimination complaints and administrative charges. The university concluded that Newman violated the student code of conduct, resulting in his expulsion recommendation.

Claims Allowed to Proceed

Newman may pursue his breach of contract claim alleging faculty manipulation of his grades, leading to the loss of a $26,000 annual scholarship. He can also proceed with his claim that faculty interference with his scholarship was racially motivated.

However, the judge ruled Newman failed to demonstrate disparate treatment based on race as no other Howard law students violated listserv rules to the extent he did.

Newman’s Statement

Newman expressed his motivation for the lawsuit, aiming to highlight that historically Black colleges and universities are not immune to racial animosities and hostilities.

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