A coalition of civil rights and student groups launched a statewide campaign Wednesday to support efforts to overturn California’s Proposition 209, which prohibits public universities from considering race and gender in admissions decisions.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Feb. 13 in San Francisco from opponents who contend that the measure is unconstitutional.
Although the law has been upheld by the California Supreme Court, opponents cite a July opinion by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned a similar law in Michigan, as new ammunition for their cause.
“We have an historic opportunity to repeal Prop. 209 if we can get the 9th Circuit to do the same as the 6th Circuit,” Leon Jenkins, president of the L.A. chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said at a news conference. “California has the most diverse population on the planet and that should be reflected in its schools and universities.”
But the numbers of black and Latino students admitted to the University of California plummeted after the initiative’s passage, especially at its most competitive campuses. Critics say they remain too low.