uc_color_logo.jpgA federal appeals court in San Francisco today rejected challenge by a group of minority students to a voter-approved ban on affirmative action in University of California admissions.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it was bound by a previous 1997 decision of the same court upholding the ban, which was part of Proposition 209, a voter initiative enacted in 1996.

Circuit Judge Barry Silverman wrote, “The bottom line is that (the 1997 decision) remains the law of the circuit.”

Forty-six minority students and a civil rights group called the Committee to Defend Affirmative Action claimed the measure unfairly excluded African American, Latino and Native American students from higher education at the public university system.

Their lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco in 2010, argued that the legal landscape had changed because a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed the University of Michigan to consider race as a one of a number of admissions factors.

But the appeals court said that while the Supreme Court decision allowed certain race-based affirmative action programs, “it did not hold that such programs are constitutionally required.”

The California measure therefore does not violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, the appeals court said.

Proposition 209 bans state and local government preferences for minority groups and women in public education, employment and contracting.

The students’ lawsuit challenged only the part of the measure that bars affirmative action for minority students applying to UC campuses.

The appeals court upheld a decision in which U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti dismissed the case.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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