Prelogar cited only the dearth of women and not of Black and Hispanic lawyers arguing before the court, but her message in a case dealing with race-conscious admissions programs was clear.
“When there is that kind of gross disparity in representation, it can matter and it’s common sense,” she told the justices.
Her argument didn’t sway the court’s conservative majority, which ruled last month that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s affirmative action programs were unconstitutional.
It did garner the attention of the court’s three liberal justices, who cited Prelogar’s remarks in a dissent, warning that “inequality in the pipeline to this institution, too, will deepen.”
But a similar lack of diversity to the one Prelogar pointed out in her argument has persisted for years in the solicitor general’s office, which is part of the Justice Department and represents the federal government before the Supreme Court.
Over the past dozen terms, nearly three-quarters of Supreme Court arguments made by lawyers in the office have been delivered by men, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.