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Following the settlement of a federal lawsuit today that had been brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:
“The Arkansas Minority Health Commission through its executive director settled a lawsuit today brought by Do No Harm, a diverse group of physicians, healthcare professionals, medical students, patients and policymakers. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of a scholarship sponsored by the Commission that limited eligibility based on race.
“To resolve this matter, the Commission agreed it will no longer offer the scholarship and will not reinstate it with limitations for eligibility based on race. Do No Harm agreed to dismiss its lawsuit and pursue no other remedies against the Commission.
“As a general matter, under the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot treat its citizens differently based on their race. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution promises all Americans equal treatment, regardless of their race. Policies departing from this fundamental principle may be upheld only if they are ‘narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.’ In this case, although States have an interest in remedying past discrimination, the scholarship’s stated goal ‘to help increase diversity’ does not meet the 14th Amendment’s stringent requirement and is unconstitutional.”