Appeals court upholds Calif. affirmative action ban

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A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned Michigan’s law against affirmative action, a carbon copy of California’s Proposition 209. The full court heard oral arguments in March after the ruling was appealed.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the University of Texas’ admissions policy, which added race as a factor that may be used in considering applications in 2003, following a high court decision that declared such measures permissible.

In California, critics of affirmative action argue that state universities are in fact admitting more non-Asian minority students than they were when Proposition 209 was passed in 1996.

In 1989, 21.3 percent of freshmen admitted to the University of California system were from such minority groups, according to a 2009 report submitted by the plaintiffs. In 2009, that figure was 25.1 percent.

Supporters of affirmative action, however, counter that this figure is misleading because the share of underrepresented minority students among graduates of California public high schools has grown even faster [-] from 29.6 percent of graduates to 48.4 percent in that period.

“That’s the Ward Connerly line that the percentage has actually increased,” Ms. Stern said, though she continued that, “it has not kept up with the demographic growth overall. The gap between the number of underrepresented minority students graduating and the number getting into these universities is worse. And unless something changes, it’s going to get much worse.”

Her organization advocates eliminating standardized test scores as a criterion for admissions, among other changes.

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