Read a PDF of our statement here.

Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), along with co-counsel Winston & Strawn LLP, filed an amended complaint in its lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” The complaint adds the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) as a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, which challenges the order on the grounds that it violates the free speech, due process, and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution. For four decades, AAAED has been a leader in equal opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity training for its members, who consist of federal contractors and grantees in higher education and private industry. 

AAAED joins existing plaintiffs the National Urban League (NUL) and the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). The amended complaint also names the Office of Management and Budget and several additional federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Energy, as defendants in the case.

The Executive Order requires contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and potentially grantees to censor any use of language that falls within its highly vague definitions of “divisive concepts,” “race or sex stereotyping,” and “race or sex scapegoating.” This lawsuit argues that the Order has a chilling effect on free speech and the dissemination of truthful information about systemic and structural inequalities, which undermines workplace equality for people of color, women, and LGBTQ individuals.

LDF and plaintiffs issued the following statements regarding the filing of the amended complaint:

“The anti-truth and anti-diversity Executive Order is one of the most damaging and dangerous actions undertaken by the Trump administration. We witnessed firsthand the harrowing ramifications of the ideology behind this order last week, as white supremacists charged the Capitol building in a flagrant and violent attempt to undermine the democratic process and our republican form of government,” said Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel. “This is why it is now more vital than ever before that individuals, associations, corporations, and nonprofits condemn the Executive Order’s broad censorship of protected speech. We are proud to be joined today in our fight to challenge the Executive Order — and to support truth and diversity — by the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, which has been committed to promoting access, inclusion, and equality since its founding four decades ago.”

“On Sept. 28, 2020, AAAED publicly and forcefully condemned the administration’s imposition of Executive Order 13950, which has already created an unmistakable chilling effect on training and educational programs related to diversity, equal opportunity, and inclusion,” said Dr. Richard Anthony Baker, president of AAAED. “We are proud to join the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance in the effort to end this unconstitutional affront to free speech.”

“Since the death of George Floyd and the ensuing community responses, corporations, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations have taken action to advance their commitment to diversity and inclusion programs. This Executive Order contravenes the commendable actions toward progress and racial reconciliation and must not stand. We need more dialogue, not less, on these important issues to help bring our country together,” added Shirley J. Wilcher, AAAED Executive Director.

“Racism lies at the core of every insurrection mounted against our nation. Last week’s insurrection at the Capitol, fueled by years of President Trump’s lies and racist and incendiary statements, underscores the need now more than ever to educate everyone about discrimination and our ongoing battle with systemic prejudice and bias driven by our country’s most powerful structures,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “Trump’s anti-diversity Executive Order would have us look the other way and ignore uncomfortable truths about inequality, but doing so will continue to cost lives and put our democracy in danger.”

“The Trump Administration’s frantic efforts to protect white privilege and primacy reached a deadly crescendo with last week’s attack on the Capitol,” said Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President and CEO. “Elimination of this Executive Order is required if we are to change the direction of the nation and heal both old and new racial wounds.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Founded in 1974 as the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), AAAED is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of equal opportunity, compliance and diversity. The longest-serving representative of individuals in the equal opportunity and diversity professions, AAAED has 46 years of leadership providing quality professional training to practitioners and promoting understanding and advocacy of affirmative action and other equal opportunity laws. Nearly one-half of its membership is composed of EEO professionals working for academic institutions.

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