Mexican-American Studies Ruled Constitutional

Editor
By Editor August 23, 2017 12:39

Mexican-American Studies Ruled Constitutional

Mexican-American Studies Ruled Constitutional

, The Republic | azcentral.com

A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday ruled that an Arizona law passed to stop Mexican-American studies classes in Tucson schools was enacted for racial and political reasons and is therefore unconstitutional.

The case stems from a long-ranging battle that started in 2010 when then-state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne objected to statements made by a speaker in a Tucson classroom. The speaker said that Latinos dislike Republicans.

According to the ruling Tuesday, in 2010, 60 percent of Tucson public-school students were Latino, and 1,300 students were enrolled in 21 classes in middle schools and high schools.

PREVIOUSLY: Arizona law banning Mexican-American studies back in court

When Horne arranged for a Latina Republican to address the same students as a rebuttal, some students protested and taped their mouths shut in protest, which Horne deemed “rude.” And the battle was on.

Later that same year, the Arizona Legislature passed a law that prohibited classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government; promote resentment toward a race or class of people; are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

A Tucson attorney named Richard Martinez filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tucson on behalf of teachers in the Tucson Unified School District.

The case was assigned to Judge John Roll. But when Roll was killed at a political gathering near Tucson in 2011 for then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the case was taken over by Judge A. Wallace Tashima from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tashima initially upheld the statute, except for the third clause: classes “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.” The plaintiffs appealed to the 9th Circuit.

 The 9th Circuit also upheld the statute “on its face,” but said it could still be unconstitutional if enacted for political or racial reasons. And the 9th Circuit said that Tashima erred in not granting a trial on those issues.

The case went back to Tashima and went to trial in July.

On Tuesday, Tashima ruled that the law had, in fact, been enacted for racial reasons, which violates the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment, and for political reasons, which violates the First Amendment.

In his ruling, Tashima cited as evidence log posts by Huppenthal, including posts in which he compared the teachings of the Mexican-American studies programs to Hitler.

“Several of his blog comments convey animus toward Mexican Americans generally,” the judge wrote.

Neither the Arizona Attorney General’s Office nor the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction responded to requests for comment on the ruling.

“I believe it is a fundamental American ideal that we are all individuals, entitled to be judged by our knowledge and character, and not by what race we happen to have been born into,” Tom Horne said in a prepared statement. “The proper role of the public schools is to bring together students of different backgrounds and teach them to treat each other as individuals. This decision promotes a program that does the opposite: divides students by race and promotes ethnic chauvinism.”

Martinez reflected on the prolonged litigation.

“What’s really important to me is an affirmation, irrespective of the length of the battle and how long it takes, the Constitution means what it says,” Martinez said.

“You can’t take away a program for racial or political reasons.”

 

Editor
By Editor August 23, 2017 12:39

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