Racial Discrimination Was Behind Ethnic-Studies Courses Ban, Judge Rules

By Corey Mitchell — August 23, 2017 1 min read
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A federal judge has ruled that Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies courses was motivated by racial discrimination.

The state violated students’ constitutional rights “because both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus,” Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday.

Supporters of the program have argued that the 2010 state law, which in part banned courses designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group, targeted Mexican Americans and other minority groups.

The school district in Tucson dropped its Mexican-American studies program after state officials threatened to cut their state funding. Tashima’s decision came in response to a lawsuit that students filed against the state.

However, Tashima hasn’t yet settled on a remedy for the violation and has not issued a final judgment. Attorneys for the students hope he will throw out the law.

Back in 2013, Tashima had previously upheld most of the law in a civil lawsuit filed by students in the school system. But a federal appeals court sent the case back to trial to determine if the ban was enacted with racist intent.

The new trial was held in July. Tashima, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, heard the case by special designation as a district court judge in Arizona

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.