Image 01 Image 03

Lawsuit: Academia’s DEI Hiring Statements are “Modern-Day Loyalty Oaths”

Lawsuit: Academia’s DEI Hiring Statements are “Modern-Day Loyalty Oaths”

The Pacific Legal Foundation is representing the applicant “at no charge . . . . to defend his right to seek a university job based on his merits, not illegal application conditions.”

An academic applying to the University of California, Santa Cruz, has sued the institution and the UC system over its DEI statement requirement for applicants. The complaint alleges mandatory DEI statements violate the First Amendment. According to the complaint, DEI statements are”modern-day loyalty oaths” akin to McCarthy-era anti-Communist pledges.

The complaint joins a chorus of opposition to DEI statements in hiring.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression has condemned DEI statements “as ideological litmus tests that threaten employment or advancement opportunities for faculty who dissent from prevailing thought on DEI.” In April 2021, the organization urged “UC Santa Cruz to drop [the] diversity statement mandate for faculty applicants.”

Dr. John D. Haltigan, the plaintiff and a developmental psychologist, submitted in place of the mandatory DEI statement his critique of their use, wherein he affirmed his “commit[ment] to colorblind inclusivity, viewpoint diversity, merit-based evaluation, and value outreach to underrepresented groups in higher education.”

Haltigan’s complaint challenges the constitutionality of “the detailed ideological standards set out in the [UC Santa Cruz] DEI rubric and other guidance documents” and claims “[t]he purpose of the DEI Statement Requirement is to penalize certain viewpoints and drive those viewpoints from the marketplace of academic hiring.”

Wilson Freeman, one of the attorneys representing Haltigan, told Legal Insurrection that “UCSC’s DEI Statement requirement as actually implemented here doesn’t meaningfully attempt to evaluate a candidate’s ability to function in diverse environments. Rather, the University’s DEI statement is an ideological litmus test which requires candidates to affirm all manner of controversial and political commitments, including the belief that individuals should receive special treatment based on their race or ethnicity, and their opposition to the ‘myth’ of merit-based, race-blind decision-making.”

UC Santa Cruz’s Academic Personnel Office provides definitions of “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” on a page describing the DEI statement requirement (internal link omitted; emphasis original):

Diversity: The variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and more. Many institutions of higher education focus on groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in top tier research institutions, including women and certain minority groups (including African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans).

Equity: As opposed to equality, where everyone receives the same support regardless of circumstance, equity focuses on fair treatment, and access to supports and opportunities necessary for advancement and success. Equity acknowledges structural issues and barriers such as racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, and sexual harassment that have prevented the full participation of individuals from marginalized groups.

Inclusion: The proactive effort through personal actions, programs, and policies to ensure that all individuals feel welcome, respected, supported, and valued.

With these definitions in hand, applicants must craft a DEI statement that shows contributions to DEI along three dimensions (emphasis original):

Awareness of and ability to articulate the challenges and barriers faced by traditionally underrepresented groups.

Experience (commensurate to career stage) of activities that reduce barriers in education or research for traditionally underrepresented groups.

Future Plans for activities and work that will contribute to UC Santa Cruz’s mission to embrace diversity in all its forms and strive for an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and productive environment.

UC Santa Cruz provides a detailed rubric for assessing applicants along these dimensions, with 1-2 points awarded for the worst answers and 4-5 points awarded for the best answers; middling answers receive 3 points. An applicant can expect to score 1-2 points for “Awareness,” “Experience,” and “Future Plans,” respectively, for a DEI statement that

Discusses diversity in vague terms, such as “diversity is important for STEM.”

. . . . . Only mentions activities that are already the expectation of faculty as evidence of commitment and involvement.

. . . . . [Contains] [v]ague or no statements about what they would do at UCSC if hired. May even feel doing so would be the responsibility of someone else.

To receive the highest marks in “Awareness,” “Experience,” and “Future Plans,” respectively, a DEI statement must show the applicant has

Clear knowledge of and experience with dimensions of diversity that result from different identities, such as ethnic, socioeconomic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and cultural differences.

. . . . . Organized or spoken at workshops or other events (depending on career stage) aimed at increasing others’ understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion as one aspect of their track record.

. . . . . [The intention] to be a strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion within the department/school/college and also their field.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, “a nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans’ liberties when threatened by government overreach and abuse,” represents Haltigan. The organization is representing Haltigan “at no charge . . . . to defend his right to seek a university job based on his merits, not illegal application conditions.”

Haltigan seeks a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the DEI statement requirement, preliminary and permanent injunctions barring enforcement of the requirement against him, and attorney fees, costs, and expenses.

The complaint:

The DEI statement rubric:


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


healthguyfsu | June 4, 2023 at 2:06 pm

IMO they have a case but it won’t be made in CA.

An oath of fealty to color judgments and class-based bigotry, including: racism, sexism, ageism, human rites, etc., and the exercise of liberal license to normalize establishment of color blocs, color quotas, and affirmative discrimination under the Pro-Choice ethical religion of Progressive sects.

Profess your commitment to lower standards for retarded races,

Loyalty Oaths….The more things change….

    Whitewall in reply to Hodge. | June 4, 2023 at 5:44 pm

    Check the fine print to see if a candidate needs to know how to ‘goose step’ on command.

It is a loyalty oath to Cultural Marxism

Loyalty oath? Remember when Pres. Trump tried to get one from James Comey (and got the exact opposite)? All the president wanted was people that weren’t out to undermine him at every turn. You can see why they refused.

Now the left thinks it’s okay??

I [John Bull] do utterly testifie and declare in my Conscience, that the Kings Highnesse is the onely Supreame Governour of this Realme, and all other his Highnesse Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spirituall or Ecclesiasticall things or causes, as Temporall: And that no forraine Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiorities, Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme. And therefore, I do utterly renounce and forsake all Jurisdictions, Powers, Superiorities, or Authorities; and do promise that from henchforth I shall beare faith and true Allegiance to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and lawfull Successors: and to my power shall assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Priviledges, Preheminences and Authorities granted or belonging to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and Successors or united and annexed to the Imperial Crowne of the Realme: so helpe me God: and by the Contents of this Booke.

from the Bull Family Album, dated March 15, 1535, pursuant to Act of Supremacy, Public Act, 26 Henry XIII, chap. 1 (November 3, 1534)

    CommoChief in reply to fscarn. | June 4, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    Yeah, wouldn’t this DEI pledge be more analogous to the test act which is itself unconstitutional? At root the reason the test act was barred by the Founders was an explicit acknowledgement that a pluralistic Nation requires respecting the conscience of the Citizenry. The DEI demand for conformity runs directly counter to that.

    Whitewall in reply to fscarn. | June 4, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    Nice find on your part. I’ll bet your spell check went nuts

      fscarn in reply to Whitewall. | June 4, 2023 at 7:09 pm

      I reset the clock on my computer to 01/01/1534. The oath sailed through the spell-check.

        pfg in reply to fscarn. | June 4, 2023 at 8:57 pm

        Clever of you. Today’s computers really are a wonder. I would have thought that it would’ve been necessary to reinstall DOS 1.0.

retiredcantbefired | June 4, 2023 at 6:07 pm

It’s good to see Pacific Legal Foundation on this case.

A bunch more like it need to be filed in other jurisdictions.

If I were applying for a job at USC and had to discuss my experiences with racism, sexism, and bullying, I would recount my experience applying for a job at USC.

Good; these lawsuits are long-overdue. It’s time to wage non-stop lawfare against brazenly and manifestly unconstitutional “diversity,” “equity” and “inclusion” diktats and assorted, obnoxiously totalitarian nonsense, wherever they rear their ugly heads.

I think it’s time for me to send a donation to Pacific Legal Foundation.

The DEI ideology is subversive of the university. A DEI statement is a disloyalty oath. I don’t like the comparison with the loyalty oaths of the forties and fifties. It obscures the reality of the international communist conspiracy and the incompatibility of Communist Party membership with the historic purpose of the university. This is not to say that these loyalty oaths were wise or effective.

Loyalty oaths were effective in keeping young adults ‘in good standing’ with the Party. To rise in the ranks even in civilian life required loyalty to Party ideology. Sounds a lot like factions of present day American life but I’m speaking of Czechoslovakia circa 1970.

Louis K. Bonham | June 5, 2023 at 11:47 am

I’ve been hearing rumblings about this case being in the works for months; glad to see it’s been brought.

I’ll almost certainly go down at the district court and CTA9 levels, but PLF is a dab hand at test cases destined for SCOTUS, which is what I think the ultimate goal here is.

Douglas Proudfoot | June 5, 2023 at 1:51 pm

I do hope the suit mentions the DEI encourages discrimination by race and sex, which is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment and illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These little things seem to get missed in academic circles, where students don’t have rights, only privileges.