Federal Judge Blocks Arizona Law Banning Mexican-American Studies


A federal judge on Wednesday issued an order stating that Arizona could no longer ban Mexican-American studies from the Tucson Unified School District, stating that doing so is unconstitutional, the Huffington Post reports.

The legal battle, which has been ongoing since 2010, came to a close this week after U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote that the program was cut “not for a legitimate educational purpose, but for an invidious discriminatory racial purpose, and a politically partisan purpose.”

Tashima’s ruling added that shutting down the program was “in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.”

In 2010, Conservative lawmakers passed the law to ban “a school district or charter school” in the state of Arizona from offering classes that included any of the following:

1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

When the legal battle came to a head over the summer, Tashima ruled that lawmakers had violated students’ First Amendment right to receive information. The Huffington Post reported at the time that Republicans who favored the ban, including the former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, and his successor John Huppenthal, “argued that the ethnic studies classes bred resentment against whites.”

According to Tashima’s ruling over the summer, Huppenthal, also a former Republican state senator, commented, “I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English.” Huppenthal also reportedly compared Mexican-American studies to the “technique that Hitler used in his rise to power.”

However, the state’s ruling in 2012 led to the removal of books written by U.S. Latinos and Latin Americans from classrooms. The school board ended its Mexican-American studies programs at the time after state officials threatened to deny 10 percent of state funding to the school district, which Tashima decried in Wednesday’s order.

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