U.S. Supreme Court's Affirmative Action Ruling Leaves California's Workaround Intact

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Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling setting a higher bar for affirmative action won’t affect California, which already bans the practice. But California universities do use “race-neutral” means to promote diversity, and the ruling leaves them intact.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209.  It says the state shall not discrimminate against - or grant preferential treatment to - any individual or group in public employment, public education or public contracting.

But UCLA Constitutional Law Professor Adam Winkler says California universities still find a way to promote diversity.  “What we do is we have, for instance, a percentage plan policy at the University of California, where we take the top students at public schools from all over the country and give them automatic admission to the UC system.”

That “race-neutral” means ensures that minority students get into UC’s – since the university’s policy reaches students in all schools.  Winkler says the Court’s ruling reiterates that such “race-neutral” means are both effective and acceptable.


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