State ethnic studies law ruled mostly constitutional
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Mar. 11, 2013 - UPDATED: Mar. 12, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A federal judge has ruled the state law aimed at shutting down Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American studies program is mostly -- but not entirely -- constitutional. Teachers and students behind the lawsuit hoped the judge would strike down the law completely. Proponents call the ruling a victory.
U.S. District Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima struck down one provision of the law and upheld the rest. The provision he found unconstitutional outlaws classes that “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group."
The law -- ARS 15-112, once know as House Bill 2281 -- essentially prohibits public school teachers from teaching certain topics. For example, it prohibits courses that "promote the overthrow of the United States government." The statute directly led to the end of TUSD’s Mexican-American studies program in early 2012.
“We kind of unlocked a little bit of that statute here at the district court level, but to fully remove those shackles we have to go on the next level,” said Tucson attorney Richard Martinez, who represents the teachers and students who brought on the lawsuit.
KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen asked Martinez, “From your side, is this a setback?”
“It's certainly not the result we wanted,” Martinez said. “We were certainly hoping that the judge would invalidate this statute in its entirety.”
On the other side in the lawsuit -- defending the law -- is Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, among others.
“I think it's an important victory in the ongoing war to prevent radicals from taking over the teaching of our kids,” Horne said over the phone, “and kids being taught to treat each other on the basis of their race when, I think, kids should be taught to treat each other on the basis of their individuality.”
This ruling is a milestone in this legal battle, but it's probably not the end of it. Both sides in the case can appeal. Martinez said his side will in some form; Horne said his group is considering it.