The Huffington Post reports that a federal court judge has upheld most of the provisions Arizona’s HB 2281, “a law banning courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, are designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocate ethnic solidarity.” The law led to the dissolution of Tucson’s acclaimed Mexican American Studies program, and the removal of at least seven titles by Mexican American and Native authors from Tucson classrooms.
A civil rights suit against the state was filed on behalf of the MAS program’s former teachers, who claimed the law was unconstitutional. Federal Judge Wallace Tashima disagreed, finding that most provisions of the law did not violate the First Amendment. Roque Planas with The Huffington Post writes:
Federal Judge Wallace Tashima said the plaintiffs failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.
The news wasn’t all bad for supporters of the suspended classes. Tashima ruled that the section of the law prohibiting courses tailored to serve students of a particular ethnicity was unconstitutional.
In his ruling, Judge Tashima did note that the actions taken by State Attorney General Tom Horne, whose efforts led to the drafting of the law, were suspect, but Tashima refused to invalidate the law. Planas writes:
“This single-minded focus on terminating the MAS (Mexican-American Studies) program, along with Horne’s decision not to issue findings against other ethnic studies programs, is at least suggestive of discriminatory intent,” Tashima wrote.
But the federal judge stopped short of invalidating the law on those grounds.
“Although some aspects of the record may be viewed to spark suspicion that the Latino population has been improperly targeted, on the whole, the evidence indicates that Defendants targeted the MAS program, not Latino students, teachers or community members who participated in the program,” the judge wrote in the ruling.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling, and efforts continue to get the MAS program reinstated in the Tucson school district. For more on the ruling, visit The Huffington Post. To view CBLDF’s prior coverage of the ban, click on the links below:
Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work and reporting on issues such as this by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!