“Thirteen years of a ban on affirmative action in the state of California has left, in particular UCLA and Berkeley, with just pitiably low numbers of black and Latino students,” Driver said.
At the heart of the complaint is the claim that minority students and their parents are being uniquely disadvantaged in violation of their due process rights
because Proposition 209 prevented the university’s governing Board of Regents from setting admissions policies that include race, gender and ethnicity, but not other characteristics, as factors.”You can’t have a white majority create a situation in which the only people who are barred from going to their regents and saying, ‘Adjust the admissions system so more of our sons and daughters can get in’ are black, Latino and Native American,” Driver said.
UC spokesman Ricardo Vasquez said university lawyers were examining the lawsuit but that it was too soon for officials to comment on it. President Mark Yudof has criticized Proposition 209 in the past.
According to the suit, Latino, black and Native American students make up one-quarter of the freshmen enrolled at UC’s nine undergraduate campuses this year—a higher percentage than in 1996. But because underrepresented minorities also comprise a bigger share of all public high school graduates—48 percent compared with 39 percent in 1996—their presence at UC schools has not kept pace in the absence of affirmative action, the complaint claims.
Driver said that while a trial judge must first decide whether to hear or dismiss the case, her aim is to get the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at Proposition 209. In 1997, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled unanimously to uphold the measure, which was passed by 54 percent of California voters.