Backers of affirmative action asked a federal appeals court this month to overturn California’s 15-year-old ban on considering race in public college admissions, citing a steep drop in black, Latino, and Native American students at the state’s elite campuses.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments in the latest legal challenge to Proposition 209, the landmark voter initiative that bars racial, ethnic, and gender preferences in public education, employment, and contracting.
The complaint was filed in January 2010 by several dozen minority students and advocacy groups. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said affirmative action is needed to increase racial diversity at the University of California’s most prestigious campuses and professional schools. Data show that UC’s efforts to enroll diverse student populations without considering race have failed, they argued.
Ralph Kasarda, who is defending Proposition 209, told the justices that the San Francisco-based appellate court was correct when it upheld the affirmative action ban. He called the current challenge “redundant and baseless.”
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as Affirmative Action Ban Draws Court Challenge