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Grants and scholarships to Pacific Islanders challenged in court

Anti-affirmative action groups bolstered by the recent supreme court decision on college admissions are now going after scholarships and other special programs designed to assist people of color and other underrepresented populations.

Kaiser Family Foundation Health News reports that a conservative group is challenging a San Francisco and California program that gives 150 pregnant Pacific Islander and Black women $1,000 a month.

The goal is to tackle the disproportionate number of Black and Pacific Islander mothers who die from childbirth; but Californians for Equal Rights Foundation argues it is illegal to assist people based on race.

“Each of the programs … is currently engaging in precisely the kind of intentional racial discrimination the Constitution forbids,” the lawsuit states, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Californians for Equal Rights Foundation filed its suit in San Francisco Superior Court.

The suit also challenges programs geared towards artists, transgender people and young Black adults.

“The city and county of San Francisco crafted the Abundant Birth Project with the express intention of picking beneficiaries based on race,” Dan Morenoff, executive director of the American Civil Rights Project, said to KFF Health News. “It’s unconstitutional. They can’t legally do it, and we are optimistic that the courts will not allow them to continue to do it.”

The city has not responded to media inquiries about the lawsuits, but in court filings said “The challenged actions were undertaken in good faith, were neither arbitrary or capricious, were a proper exercise of discretion and represented a good faith and reasonable construction of the applicable laws,” Deputy City Attorney Kaitlyn Murphy wrote.

In a separate action in Colorado, Denver7 reports the Equal Protection Project is attempting to strike down scholarships for Black, Hispanic, Alaskan Native, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

“We have filed close to 20 similar complaints for other universities,” said attorney William Jacobson, president and founder of the Equal Protection Project. “Our goal is to stop these bad practices.”

Both the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Colorado Denver were named in the lawsuit.

The University of Colorado Boulder just became aware of the complaint filed by the Equal Protection Project against the university to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Our campus strives to comply with all federal requirements related to the awarding of financial aid, is evaluating this complaint and will respond to any inquiry we might receive from OCR,” said a spokesperson.

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