PLF secures victory – Californians are still equal under the law

September 24, 2012 | By RALPH KASARDA

PLF’s earlier victory in defending California’s ban on government discrimination and preferences based on race and sex was recently secured when no party to a lawsuit challenging California’s Constitution filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  The case is called Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Brown.

In 1996, California voters adopted Proposition 209 – the California Civil Rights Initiative – which amended the California Constitution to provide that the state shall not discriminate, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race or sex.  In 1997, the Ninth Circuit rejected an equal protection challenge to Proposition 209, and held the initiative was constitutional under both a conventional and political-structure equal protection challenge.

On February 16, 2010, however, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Immigrant Rights and Integration and to Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN) filed a lawsuit challenging Proposition 209 under the Equal Protection Clause as it is applied to the University of California system.  BAMN’s lawsuit claimed that Proposition 209 created a racial caste system in which the state’s most prestigious schools train mostly white students and students from some Asian backgrounds.   The lawsuit named the governor, the Regents of the University of California, and the UC President as defendants.  BAMN’s claim was ridiculous, since Proposition 209 prohibits the state, including the University of California, “from discriminat[ing] against or grant[ing] preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public . . . education.”  Cal. Const., Art. 1, sec. 31(a).  In other words, rather than being unconstitutional, Proposition 209 prohibits the instances of discrimination that BAMN alleged.

We intervened in the lawsuit representing Ward Connerly and ACRF, and prevailed in our motion to dismiss BAMN’s complaint.  The district court agreed with PLF that Proposition 209 was constitutional in all respects.  The district court decision is here.  BAMN appealed (UC President Yudof appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss on grounds unrelated to Prop 209).  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal even after BAMN’s protestors showed up en masse at the oral argument.  The Ninth Circuit decision is here.

The last day to file a petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court recently passed.  No party filed.  It should be noted that PLF has successfully taken the lead to defend Proposition 209, both in federal and state courts, because the state government refuses to do so.