Since he was an undergrad at UC-Berkeley, Ronald Cruz has been fighting against Proposition 209, which barred California universities from giving preference for race and gender in making admissions decisions.
Having graduated from Berkeley Law last year and admitted to the state bar in December, Cruz is now the California attorney of record on a legal team challenging the law with a lawsuit filed yesterday in the Northern District, according to the Associated Press.
“I’ve seen how Prop 209 has created a hostile environment on the campus for underrepresented minority students,” said Cruz. He added that he’s known as a “lawyer-activist” around campus.
Cruz’s legal team is led by Shanta Driver of Michigan-based By Any Means Necessary, a coalition that agitated in support of affirmative action in Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School.
“One could say that was kind of a rehearsal for this case,” Cruz said. “We learned how we could present the case for affirmative action.”
Driver told AP that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld some school desegregation programs since challenges to Prop 209 were last rejected by the state supreme court and a federal appeals court.
The percentage of minority students in the University of California as a whole hasn’t kept up with high school graduation rates of those groups, and minority students have been redistributed to less selective campuses, according to the complaint, which claims racial discrimination.
Cruz said he’s working to add plaintiffs and invite new organizations and city governments to join the suit.
“The times in which we’ll accept being excluded from the university are over,” he said.
Ward Connerly, founder and chairman of the Sacramento-based American Civil Rights Institute and the force behind Prop 209, reportedly told TV station KTVU that he didn’t think the complaint has any legs.