Scholars Join Fight to Save 209

PRINCETON, NJ (June 17, 2010)—The California Association of Scholars (CAS), an affiliate of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against Proposition 209.

Approved in 1996 by a large margin, Prop. 209 prohibits state agencies in California from using racial, ethnic, or sex-based preferences. This law applies to all public CA colleges and universities, including the University of California system.

The law is now being challenged by an activist group that claims that it is discriminatory to prohibit discrimination. The group, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (known as BAMN), filed a lawsuit alleging that Prop. 209 violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. The case is Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Schwarzenegger.

Governor Schwarzenegger and the University of California have filed motions to dismiss the suit. Proposition 209 supporters, however, have expressed worry that UC and the state will fail to defend the law vigorously. If the motion to dismiss is not granted and the case moves ahead, the supporters of Prop. 209 want to be sure that their arguments are strongly represented.

The National Association of Scholars’ affiliate, the California Association of Scholars, played a key role in drafting the original Proposition 209. NAS President Peter Wood said, “Prop. 209 is a beacon for Americans. It says in simple, clear, and powerful language that racial preferences are wrong and have no legitimate place in public life. We will back our California affiliate all the way in defending this foundational law from BAMN’s mischievous lawsuit and, if need be, from half-hearted state officials.”

In addition to CAS, two other parties have asked to intervene in support of Prop. 209: Ward Connerly, former UC regent, CAS member, and president of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI); and the American Civil Rights Foundation (ACRF), the legal arm of ACRI.

John Ellis, president of the CAS, said, “Affirmative action in the form of race-based preferences does great damage to students, to academic programs, to race relations on campus, and in fact to the entire academic enterprise.”

Wood added, “BAMN is a radical organization that works tirelessly to foster racial antagonism. It has deployed questionable tactics against civil rights initiatives in every state where they have been proposed. BAMN’s earlier legal maneuvers in California aimed at overturning Prop. 209 went nowhere. The courts agreed that Prop. 209 is constitutional. But we can’t take victory for granted.”

The Prop. 209 supporters are represented by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation, a watchdog organization for limited government and individual rights that has been the leading litigator to defend and enforce Prop. 209 in courts throughout California. The motion to intervene, filed this week, is scheduled to be heard on July 23, 2010.

CONTACT:

Ashley Thorne, Director of Communications, NAS: 609-683-7878; thorne@nas.org

The National Association of Scholars advocates for higher education reform.

www.nas.org

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