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April 03, 2012 5:28 PM Affirmative Action Ban Allowed

By Daniel Luzer

Since 1996, California public colleges have been legally prevented from considering race in admissions. Proponents of affirmative action objected and sued to get the state to put affirmative action policies back in. Proposition 209, which banned the policy, applied to all state polices, including contracting, hiring and college admissions.

But the ban remains. According to an Associated Press article in the Washington Post:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the state’s landmark voter initiative, Proposition 209, does not violate students’ constitutional rights.
The ruling is the latest to uphold the ban in a long list of legal challenges seeking to overturn since it was passed by voters in 1996. Backers of affirmative action argued that the court should reconsider the ruling in light of more recent decisions elsewhere in the nation that reinstated affirmative action in college admissions.

Opponents of the ban maintain that diversity on college campuses “has suffered,” as the AP puts it, since the legislature enacted the policy in 1996.

The California system has had a 1 percent overall decline in minority enrollment since 1996.

The decline in the number of minority students at the most selective public institutions has been considerable, however. The percent of underrepresented minorities that made up the freshman class at UC Berkeley declined from 24 percent in 1995 to 16 percent in 2002. The percent of underrepresented minorities that made up the freshman class at UCLA declined from 30 percent in 1995 to 19 percent in 2002

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer