Virginia NAACP files lawsuit against governor

Free Press staff report | 4/18/2024, 6 p.m.
The NAACP Virginia State Conference filed a lawsuit with the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond on Monday against ...
Rev. Bailey

The NAACP Virginia State Conference filed a lawsuit with the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond on Monday against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Office for violating the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The Virginia NAACP’s lawsuit details what it said is Gov. Youngkin’s failure to produce any records responsive to the group’s request for public information sent on August 31, 2023.

The requested records relate to the Youngkin Administration’s active subversion of his and his administration’s responsibilities under a 2020 law that created the position of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”) for the Commonwealth with the duties to promote inclusive practices in state government, address systemic inequities in state government practices, and facilitate equity policy, according to an NAACP news release. The request also sought records of the governor’s communications with state universities over their DEI efforts and other related matters.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Ropes & Gray LLP represent the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.

“The purpose of today’s action, like all the actions we have taken, is to seek full transparency and to hold the Youngkin administration accountable,” said the Rev. Cozy Bailey, Sr., president of the Virginia NAACP.

“Virginians, especially people of color, deserve to know what this administration is doing in its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” the Rev. Bailey added. “Some believe this Governor is copying efforts seen in other states to limit or outright eliminate DEI practices in state government. If this is the direction he is going in, the Virginia NAACP will not stand by and allow this to happen. We look forward to our day in court.”

Katy Youker, director of Economic Justice Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Gov. Youngkin’s refusal to provide any requested records shows total disregard for the public’s right to information about its state government.

“Our client has the right to information about the ways in which the Governor and DEI Director for the Commonwealth Martin Brown have tried to undermine the Administration’s legal duties to advance DEI, which the General Assembly understood as critical to ensuring fairness and a thriving democracy,” Ms. Youker said.