Affirmative Action Fight in California Isn’t Over

Backers of affirmative action — corrective laws and policies that allow for racial, ethnic and gender preferences in employment and public education — asked a federal appeals court to overturn the state’s 15-year-old ban.

Since its inception in 1965, affirmative action has always been a hot topic. Forty-seven years later, it continues to be an issue for which Californians are willing to fight.

Backers of the ban against the law that considers race in public college admissions asked a federal appeals court Monday to overturn the state’s 15-year-old rule.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the arguments in the latest legal challenge to Proposition 209 — a 1996 landmark voter initiative that prohibited racial, ethnic and gender preferences in employment, public education and contracting — and a decision has not yet been rendered.

In October, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB 185, a bill that would have re-enacted the effects of affirmative action, but supporters have not given up.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said affirmative action is needed to increase racial diversity at some of California’s most prestigious campuses and professional schools. They argue that the University of California’s efforts to enroll diverse student populations without considering race have failed.

“As a state-serving institution, the university should reflect the demographics of California, and right now it doesn’t,” Magali Flores, 20, a third-year student majoring in ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, told the Associated Press. “Prop. 209 wants to pretend that race isn’t real.”

The original complaint against the ban was filed in January 2010 by several dozen minority students and advocacy groups who claim the ban violates the civil rights of Black, Latino and Native American students, who currently make up half of California’s high school graduates but not colleges.

In 2011, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Michigan’s affirmative action ban.

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(Photo: Express-Times /Landov)

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