How Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action impacts California

California has been testing the effects of a ban on affirmative action since 1996 when voters passed Proposition 209.

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, June 30, 2023
How Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action impacts CA
The Supreme Court ruled to ban affirmative action in the college admissions process and here's how it could impact California colleges.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Supreme Court has voted to end affirmative action in the college admissions process. The high court ruled that colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration when accepting students. Here in California, Proposition 209 did the same for public education.

California has been testing the effects of a ban on affirmative action since 1996 when voters passed Proposition 209.

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Data collected years earlier from 1985 through 2012 from U.C. Berkeley found that freshmen enrollment of Asian Americans has steadily increased especially after 1996.

But whites have seen a decrease in enrollment and the numbers remained flat after 1996. African Americans saw numbers go down after 1996 and have also stayed low, about three percent.

UCLA also reported that in 1996, seven percent of the student body was Black, today it's two percent.

Angel Nwosu says the transition to Cal was hard.

"I feel like it affects the legacy in terms of the future. It really discourages people who look like me to come to this institution and ultimately get a great education," she said.

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U.C. Berkeley student Calvin Yang is with Students for Fair Admissions, the organization that sued Harvard over its admissions policy.

"It belongs to all of us who desire a chance but can now rejoice over the fact that our kids can be judged based on their achievements and merit alone," said Yang.

Professor Bill Hing is with the USF School of Law and Asian American Studies.

"Not only Chinese Americans but many other Asian Americans in fact benefited from affirmative action, especially those that are in low-income categories. Those that are complaining are usually those that are upper-middle-class Chinese Americans," said Hing.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a product of affirmative action policies. She dissented Thursday.

RELATED: UC Berkeley struggles with Black student admissions

Justice Clarence Thomas also benefited from affirmative action but he has always been adamantly opposed to any kind of race-based policies.

Ward Connerly, a former U.C. Regent was among those fighting to pass Proposition 209. On Thursday he told us building diversity is not the job of a university.

"That isn't their function, they're supposed to provide a place where people can learn and they should not be using race on that basis," said Connerly.

Justice John Roberts wrote, "Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant's discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.

Which means this leaves the door open for universities and colleges to come up with creative ways to get around the ban on affirmative action.

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