Do No Harm Settles Federal Lawsuit Against Unconstitutional Scholarship Program
Do No Harm and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission agreed to settle the federal lawsuit that Do No Harm brought against the Commission for maintaining an unconstitutional scholarship program that excluded certain students solely based on their race or color. As a result, the Commission will no longer offer a scholarship program for students in the healthcare field that determines eligibility based on race.
“Do No Harm is pleased that the Arkansas Minority Health Commission decided to stop offering a scholarship that determined the applicants’ eligibility based on race,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Board Chair of Do No Harm. “The scholarship program was blatantly illegal and yet another example of injecting race-based decision making into education for medical professionals.”
In mid-April 2023, Do No Harm filed a lawsuit on behalf of a member in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against Kenya L. Eddings, the Executive Director of the Commission. The suit asserted that the scholarship program discriminated against students based on race. To be eligible for the scholarship, an applicant needed to “confirm that [he/she] is a racial minority,” meaning “African American, Hispanic, Native African/American Indian, Asian American or Marshallese.”
Within weeks of filing the lawsuit, Do No Harm sought a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the Commission from making scholarship decisions by using its race requirement. The federal court presiding over this case set an expedited schedule to hear Do No Harm’s request for a preliminary injunction, and the hearing was set to occur in mid-May.
In agreeing to settle the lawsuit by removing the scholarship program that used race as an eligibility criterion, the Arkansas Attorney General similarly acknowledged that the scholarship offered no valid reason for classifying students based on race and was unconstitutional. The Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all American citizens regardless of race.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Do No Harm’s member—“Member A”—an Arkansas pre-nursing student who otherwise met all of the scholarship’s requirements but could not apply for the scholarship because of her race. “Medical scholarships, like medicine itself, should be open to all. I am grateful that Arkansas ended its discrimination,” Member A said. And she added, “Thank you to Do No Harm for helping me stand up for the Constitution and my rights.”
See the full settlement agreement below.
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