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February 18, 2010 6:21 PM The Affirmative Action Fight Continues

By Daniel Luzer

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The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a civil rights group, is working to overturn the California state law that prohibits state universities from making admissions decisions using race. According to a New York Times piece:

The group filed a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court in Oakland, challenging the constitutionality of a ballot measure approved by California voters in 1996. Both a federal appeals court and the California Supreme Court have rebuffed earlier challenges to the law, Proposition 209. The complaint says two United States Supreme Court rulings in affirmative action cases since those earlier decisions warrant another [look at the ballot measure].

California ended affirmative action with Proposition 209, one of those strange California constitutional amendments that are so easy to enact and so often contrary to actual public trends in California. (The proposition passed by 54 percent.)

Since the passage of 209, black and Hispanic enrollment at California’s elite institutions fell dramatically, though Asian-American enrollment increased across the system and the black graduation rate at UC Berkeley increased by almost 7 percent.

According to an article about the matter in the Los Angeles Times, BAMN “contends that Proposition 209… violates equal protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and says it has limited the numbers of non-Asian minority students at UC’s most selective campuses.”

Proposition 209 was a 1996 amendment to the California state constitution that barred public state institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity in hiring or admissions decisions. The proposition was driven by Ward Connerly, prominent black conservative and former member of the University of California Board of Regents.

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