California Affirmative Action Ban Upheld
A federal appeals court in California upheld California's ban on affirmative action Monday, marking the second time it has done so since Proposition 209, which states that public employers and educators are not to "discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."
Proponents of affirmative action are disappointed by the ruling.
George B. Washington, a lawyer who represented the students and groups who filed the latest appeal, said he would ask for the decision to be reviewed by the appellate court.
Ralph Karsada, an attorney who argued to support the ban, said in a statement that "the bottom line from both decisions by the 9th Circuit — today's and the ruling 15 years ago — is that California voters have every right to prohibit government from color-coding people and playing favorites based on individuals' sex or skin color."
Supporters of affirmative action argue that it evens out the playing field for minorities who have typically been discriminated against and gives them a fair shot at the same education as everyone else.
Colleges and universities in California and other states with affirmative action bans have made efforts to maintain diversity despite the ban, but supporters of affirmative action argue that these efforts are not enough.
Opponents of affirmative action argue that it is essentially reverse discrimination, giving educational opportunities to those who may not have earned them through grades, test scores and other means regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender.
As a private university, USC does not fall under the umbrella of Prop 209 but its website states that the school is dedicated to following laws "which prohibit discrimination against, or which mandate that special consideration be given to, students and applicants for admission...on the basis of any protected category, including race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic which may be specified in such laws and regulations."
USC prides itself on its diversity and tends to use it as a promotional tool to applicants. Statistics about current freshman class say that it is made up of "22 percent under-represented minority students."
The Supreme Court agreed in February to hear a case concerning affirmative action at the University of Texas, one of several it has heard on the issue in the past few years.