Court Upholds Calif. Affirmative Action Ban -- Rules on Race-Based College Admissions

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES - Affirmative action proponents took a hit Monday as California's ban on using race, ethnicity and gender in admitting students to public colleges and universities was upheld by a federal appeals court panel.

The ruling marked the second time the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned back a challenge to the state's landmark voter initiative, Proposition 209, which was passed in 1996.

Affirmative action proponents, who had requested that the court reconsider its 1997 decision after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that affirmative action could be used in college admissions, said they would continue fighting.

"We think the decision is wrong," said Detroit attorney George B. Washington, who is representing the group of minority students and advocacy groups that filed the latest challenge in January 2010.

Washington said he would ask the full appellate court to review the case since this decision was issued by a three-judge panel.

In its ruling, the court rejected the plaintiffs' arguments that a new ruling is needed and said the previous decision still applies.

Universities may implement race-based admissions programs, but they are not constitutionally required, the court said.

At least six states have adopted bans on using affirmative action in state college admissions. …