Calif race-based admissions law challenged anew

By LISA LEFF Associated Press Writer

Posted: 02/17/2010 09:02:29 AM PST

Updated: 02/17/2010 09:02:30 AM PST
SAN FRANCISCO—The law that bars the University of California from considering race in student admissions violates the civil rights of black, Latino and Native American students who are underrepresented at the state’s most prestigious campuses and blocked from seeking redress through the school’s governing board, a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.The federal court suit was brought by the Michigan-based, pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary. It challenges the constitutionality of Proposition 209, a ballot measure approved by California voters in 1996 that prohibited racial or gender preferences in public contracting, education and employment.A federal appeals court and the California Supreme Court have rebuffed earlier efforts to overturn the 13-year-old law. But Shanta Driver, the group’s lead counsel, said a renewed federal challenge is timely because the U.S. Supreme Court has since issued a pair of rulings upholding some school desegregation programs. The gap between Latino and black high school graduation rates and UC enrollment has grown since Proposition 209 was enacted.

“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.


2 responses to “Calif race-based admissions law challenged anew

  1. Current Threats to University of California Don’t Come From the Outside – $3 Million Mismanagement Spending by UC President Yudof for University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau to Hire Consultants – When Work Can Be Done Internally & Impartially
    During the days of the Great Recession, every dollar in higher education counts. Contact Chairwoman Budget Sub-committee on Education Finance Assemblywoman Carter 916.319.2062 – tell her to stop the $3,000,000 spending by Birgeneau on consultants.
    Do the work internally at no additional costs with UCB Academic Senate Leadership (C. Kutz/F. Doyle), the world – class professional UCB faculty/ staff, & the UCB Chancellor’s bloated staff (G. Breslauer, N. Brostrom, F. Yeary, P. Hoffman, C. Holmes etc) & President Yudof.
    President Yudof’s UCB Chancellor should do the high paid work he is paid for instead of hiring expensive East Coast consults to do the work of his job. ‘World class’ smart executives like Chancellor Birgeneau need to do the hard work analysis, and make the tough-minded difficult, decisions to identify inefficiencies.
    Where do the $3,000,000 consultants get their recommendations?
    From interviewing the UCB senior management that hired them and approves their monthly consultant fees and expense reports. Remember the nationally known auditing firm who said the right things and submitted recommendations that senior management wanted to hear and fooled the public, state, federal agencies?
    $3 million impartial consultants never bite the hands (Chancellor Birgeneau/ Chancellor Yeary) that feed them!
    Mr. Birgeneau’s accountabilities include “inspiring innovation, leading change.” Instead of deploying his leadership and setting a good example by doing the work of his Chancellor’s job, Birgeneau outsourced his work to the $3,000,000 consultants. Doesn’t he engage UC and UC Berkeley people at all levels to examine inefficiencies and recommend $150 million of trims? Hasn’t he talked to Cornell and the University of North Carolina – which also hired the consultants — about best practices and recommendations that eliminate inefficiencies?
    No wonder the faculty, staff, students, Senate & Assembly are angry and suspicious.
    In today’s Great Recession three million dollars is a irresponsible price to pay when a knowledgeable ‘world-class’ UCB Chancellor and his bloated staff do not do the work of their jobs.
    Pick up the phone and call: save $3 million for students!

  2. I am glad that this topic was discussed on this blog, totally agree with all the above, but there are some problems in the legal regulation in the light of recent changes in legislation. I would not wish to write here in great detail, much is written on the site … But thanks anyway!

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