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Court to consider diversity CLE speaker rule without oral argument

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Supreme Court sealThe Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in a Bar rules case regarding speaker diversity in CLE programming.

An August 6 order signed by Supreme Court Clerk John A. Tomasino announced that “the case has been submitted to the Court without oral argument.”

On April 15, the court on its own motion adopted amendments to Bar Rule 6-3.10 that would prohibit a Business Law Section policy promoting speaker diversity in section-sponsored CLE programming. The court ruled that the section’s policy violated U.S. Supreme Court rulings barring the use of quotas in pursuing affirmative action.

The court praised the section’s effort to promote diversity among CLE presenters, but said, “Nonetheless, certain means are out of bounds. Quotas based on characteristics like the ones in this policy are antithetical to basic American principles of nondiscrimination [Citations omitted.]”

The rule amendment prohibited the Bar from approving CLE credit for any course that uses “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability or sexual orientation” to select participants or course faculty.

Although the amendment was effective immediately, the court gave interested parties until June 29 to file comments. The deadline was subsequently extended to July 15.

The Business Law Section repealed its policy, but the amendment resulted in The Florida Bar ending CLE credit for ABA courses. The section’s policy was based on an ABA policy adopted in 2016 to encourage diversity among its CLE presenters.

Comments in In Re: Amendment to Rule Regulating The Florida Bar 6-10.3, Case No. SC21-284, have poured in from lawyers, law firms, voluntary bar associations representing women and minority lawyers, the ABA and others.

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