The American Association of Law Schools is moving a 2018 conference from Austin to Chicago and will no longer hold meetings in Texas because of the state’s new controversial immigration law and a proposed “bathroom bill” that restricts restroom access for transgender people.
Paul Marcus, president of the association, wrote to Texas lawmakers in a letter Thursday that the group’s 2018 Conference on Clinical Legal Education would no longer be held in Austin because of the divisive measures. He also pledged that AALS will hold no other future meetings in the state.
Marcus said the decision was not made lightly, and that the conference relocation comes at a substantial financial cost to the organization.
“We made these decisions, nonetheless, because we are deeply concerned with the legislative actions recently taken in your state,” he wrote. Marcus pointed specifically to a law known as S.B. 4 — which goes into effect Sept. 1 and authorizes police to inquire about a detainee’s immigration status regardless of whether they are charged with a crime — and a bill called S.B. 6.
Known as the “bathroom bill,” S.B. 6 is currently being debated by a Texas state Senate committee and would require that bathrooms in schools must be designated for, and used only by, persons based on their “biological sex.”
Noting that many of the group’s 200 member law schools have clinical programs that serve individuals seeking to immigrate to the U.S. or members of the LGBTQ community, Marcus wrote the organization “is concerned about the impact these laws will have on the non-discrimination and due process rights of individuals in violation of the association’s core values.”
“AALS bylaws specifically prohibit ‘discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender (including identity and expression), sexual orientation, age, or disability,’” he added. “We hope that our action will encourage Texas state lawmakers to reconsider these policies. We look forward to returning to Texas when they do.”