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SFFA Attorney Withdraws From Supreme Court Oral Arguments to Receive Cancer Treatment

William S. Consovoy speaks to the press outside the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in November 2018.
William S. Consovoy speaks to the press outside the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in November 2018. By Amy Y. Li
By Rahem D. Hamid, Crimson Staff Writer

William S. Consovoy, the prominent conservative attorney who has led the crusade against Harvard’s race conscious admissions policies on behalf of Students for Fair Admissions, will not argue before the Supreme Court on Oct. 31.

Consovoy was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago and will step back from the SFFA case this month to receive treatment, according to CNN.

Consovoy, who has represented the anti-affirmative action group since it first sued Harvard in 2014, will be replaced at the Supreme Court by attorney Cameron T. Norris, a partner at Consovoy’s legal firm, Consovoy McCarthy, according to CNN.

In a statement, SFFA President Edward J. Blum said the group “is saddened that Mr. Consovoy will not be able to represent our students at the oral arguments at the Supreme Court.”

“He has been a source of energy, wisdom and knowledge for this litigation and we wish him a speedy recovery,” Blum wrote.

Students for Fair Admissions first sued Harvard in 2014, alleging the university discriminates against Asian American applicants through its race-conscious admissions processes. Following two court rulings in favor of the University, the group appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case in January.

SFFA filed a similar lawsuit against the University of North Carolina in 2014 in a case also led by Consovoy’s firm. The Supreme Court combined the cases in January before separating them in July. Another Consovoy McCarthy partner, Patrick Strawbridge, will argue on behalf of SFFA in that case, according to CNN.

Consovoy has a long record of working for right-leaning causes: a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, he previously worked with Ed Blum to represent an Alabama county accused of violating the Voting Rights Act. Consovoy successfully convinced the Supreme Court to overturn portions of the law.

He has also served as a private attorney for former President Donald J. Trump, helping him fend off efforts to compel the release of his tax returns.

At oral argument on Oct. 31, Harvard will be represented by Seth P. Waxman ’73, a former United States Solicitor General. UNC will be represented by North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Y. Park.

—Staff Writer Nia L. Orakwue contributed reporting.

—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at

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