Federal Judge Finds Racial Animus Behind Law Banning Tucson Schools' Mexican American Studies Program

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 11:50am
Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 2:52pm

A federal judge has ruled that Arizona’s ethnic studies ban was enacted with discriminatory intent. The judge was particularly critical of former state education leaders Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, who helped pass and enact the law.

The law prohibits courses that promote resentment toward a race or a class of people or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating people as individuals.

The ban was responsible for the shut down of a popular Mexican American studies program in Tucson in 2012.

At first, Judge Wallace Tashima upheld most of the 2010 law in a civil lawsuit filed by the students. But after the case was sent back to his court for a trial, Tashima changed his mind.

Nolan Cabrera, an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the case, said the new ruling is a vindication after a years long struggle.

"It’s also a really important statement that racism and racial animas that drives social policy will not stand," he said.

John Huppenthal, former schools superintendent, said Tuesday that he’s not surprised by the ruling adding it was meaningless because the law is not likely to be enforced in the future.

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