The LSAC has been at the receiving end of quite a bit of process over the past few years. Lawsuits filed against them under the American’s with Disabilities Act for discriminatory practices (both in denying LSAT test takers accommodations, and in flagging LSAT scores received with accommodated LSAT testing) seem to be on the upswing. Even the Justice Department has intervened.
So it’s refreshing to see LSAC take the offensive and file a lawsuit itself.
Governor Gerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2122 into law on September 26, 2012, specifically targeting the LSAC/LSAT. They are no longer allowed to “flag” LSAT scores – essentially, an asterisk that allows law schools to tell who received accommodations when taking the LSAT. If they do, they face fines of up to $750 per violation.
The LSAC is taking many lines of attack against the law.
The first is saying that law schools have an interest in receiving complete and accurate information. By preventing LSAC from flagging LSAT scores, law schools won’t know who took the exam under non-standard conditions. According to the LSAC, the predictive value of these LSAT scores isn’t as good as the predictive value of the test when taken under standard conditions.
The second line of attack states that the law violates LSAC’s freedom of speech. Related to the first issue, preventing the flagging of these tests prevents the LSAC from reporting the LSAT scores in a manner they feel is most accurate.
The law will also prevent standard administration of the exam, nation-wide. If they have to change policies for California, they’d have to change their policies across the nation or decide to simply have California LSAT scores be “different”. The latter is less expensive, and thus the method more likely for them to employ. This is, however, a weak line of argumentation.
By passing this law, Congress is also usurping judicial power, according to the LSAC. It amounts to a trial by legislation, and the LSAC is being fined despite never having been found to be doing anything wrong.
Finally, LSAC is arguing that the law violates its equal protection under the law, as the law specifically targets LSAC. It doesn’t apply to other, similar exams, and there is already a law that applies generally to tests used for admissions.
I’ve previously looked at the intersection of the LSAC and ADA on our LSAT blog. It’ll be interesting to see how this case plays out, especially in tandem with the Justice Department’s involvement in the suits against the LSAC. Will the LSAC comply, change their policy solely for California, or continue to challenge the law? Maybe they’ll come up with a creative solution (let’s start flagging the LSATs that aren’t under accommodated testing!).
As always, though, don’t expect much to change on the LSAT any time soon. These cases can take a while to be resolved. And even if it comes out in California’s favor, expect the LSAC to come up with a solution that still involves administering the LSAT.