Wednesday 15 November 2023

Judge Suspends California Community Colleges Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Rules

 A federal judge suspended the enforcement of the California Community Colleges’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) rules on Tuesday, according to court documents.

The DEI rules evaluated if employees had “demonstrated, or progress toward, proficiency in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” according to a May memo from California Community Colleges leaders. U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher D. Baker of the Eastern District of California suspended the enforcement of the rules, saying they might be “contrary” to the First Amendment, according to the injunction.

“Although Defendants’ aim of promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in California’s system of community colleges undoubtedly is important and Defendants are entitled to encourage their employees to embrace these tenets, Plaintiff has shown a likelihood of success on the merits that the regulatory scheme Defendants have put in place to advance these interests is contrary to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech in the academic arena,” the injunction reads.

Bakersfield Community College Professor Daymon Johnson filed the lawsuit in June and alleged that his colleague, Matthew Garrett, had been terminated for expressing his political beliefs. The lawsuit asked for an injunction against the rules.

“We strongly disagree with the recommendation by the magistrate and will have a more detailed response within the next 14 days,” the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It is well established that faculty and staff proficient in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility creates a safer, more inclusive, and more effective learning environment for all students in a system as large and diverse as the California Community Colleges.”

A separate case argues a similar case against the California Community Colleges’ DEI rules.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sued California on behalf of six professors in August to stop the state from forcing them to incorporate DEI rules in the classroom. The six professors alleged that the rules force them to espouse “anti-racist” concepts while teaching, which violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Several Republican-led states have signed legislation banning DEI or inquired into its use in public universities.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed a bill in June banning the usage of funding of DEI at public universities and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a similar bill in May. South Carolina’s Republican legislature initiated an inquiry into DEI at colleges in the state, and Arkansas did the same, which resulted in the University of Arkansas preemptively shuttering its DEI offices.

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