Backers of affirmative action asked a federal appeals court Monday to overturn California's 15-year-old ban on considering race in public college admissions, citing a steep drop in black, Latino and Native American students at the state's elite campuses.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments in the latest legal challenge to Proposition 209, the landmark voter initiative that barred racial, ethnic and gender preferences in public education, employment and contracting.
The affirmative action ban has withstood multiple challenges since voters approved it in 1996, but advocates say their campaign to overturn it has been bolstered by recent court decisions, as well as support from Gov. Jerry Brown.
Dozens of minority students backing the plaintiffs filled the courtroom for the hour-long hearing, when the justices questioned whether they should tamper with a 1997 ruling in which the same appellate court upheld Proposition 209.