Seeking to increase the ranks of black, Latino and Native American students at the University of California, civil rights activists said they will file a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state law that bans affirmative action in admissions.
The suit contends that Proposition 209, which was passed by California voters in 1996, 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. The suit also criticizes the university system for relying too heavily on high school grades and test scores in admissions, saying that the practice discriminates against students from schools without strong honors classes and counseling.
George Washington, a Detroit-based attorney for the group, said the legal environment has changed enough in recent years that his case can succeed. He cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in a case involving the University of Michigan’s law school, which allowed colleges to consider race as a factor in admissions as long as they do not use quotas.