Case Status: Victory before D.C. Circuit, case settled on remand.

Lamprecht v. Federal Communications Commission

  • Federal Appellate Courts

Appeals Court Overturns Federal Gender Preference

One of the Center for Individual Rights’ first clients was Thomas Lamprecht, a 28-year-old radio broadcaster whose application for a license had been denied by the FCC because he was a man. The Lamprecht case arose when the FCC invoked its female preference policy to deny Lamprecht the right to operate an AM radio station in Maryland. Although Lamprecht held a degree in radio studies and had worked at radio stations in management positions for several years, the license went instead to a less qualified woman who had no broadcasting experience.

Other public interest law firms shrank from Lamprecht’s case. They already had enough “affirmative action cases” and lacked the resources (or the will) to litigate another such case from the ground up. But for CIR’s founders, Michael Greve and Michael McDonald, the Lamprecht matter was the perfect way to show how CIR could bring strategic, big impact cases and win victories that no one else thought possible.

Thomas Lamprecht

CIR took Lamprecht’s case with alacrity, we stuck with it through all its twists, turns and set-backs, and ultimately won – a “surprise” victory marking the first time a federal preference had been struck down by the courts. The ruling was a resounding affirmation of the principle that the government can’t engage in discrimination simply because it feels that the “right type” of discrimination is okay.

Lamprecht showed that the CIR model worked: by seizing opportunities to represent real clients in original litigation using outside, pro bono counsel, CIR could bring about real legal reform at a lower cost and in shorter time than other groups.