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Arce v. Douglas

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 7, 2015

MAYA ARCE; her father and next best friend, SEAN ARCE, Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-Appellees,
v.
DIANE DOUGLAS, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, in her official capacity, ARIZONA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, AND MEMBERS OF THE ARIZONA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants

Argued and Submitted January 12, 2015, San Francisco, California

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. D.C. No. 4:10-cv-00623-AWT. A. Wallace Tashima, Senior Circuit Judge,[*] Presiding.

SUMMARY[***]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's summary judgment, and remanded in an action challenging Arizona revised statutes § § 15-111 and 15-112, which were sponsored and implemented by the Arizona state superintendent of education, and which eliminated the Mexican American Studies program in Tucson public schools.

Pursuant to § § 15-111 and 15-112, a school district or charter school is prohibited from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that: (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," or (4) " Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." The parties did not dispute that the statute was enacted almost entirely with the Mexican American Studies program in mind, and that the program was the first and only ethnic studies program that has been found to be in violation of § 15-112.

The panel affirmed the district court's rulings that § 15-112(A)(3) is unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment but severable from the rest of the statute; that § § 15-112(A)(2) and (A)(4) are not overbroad in violation of the First Amendment; and that § § 15-112(A)(2) and (A)(4) are not vague in violation of the Due Process Clause.

The panel reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on plaintiffs' equal protection claim and remanded that claim for trial. The panel held that there were genuine issues of fact regarding whether the enactment and/or enforcement of § 15-112 was motivated at least in part by a discriminatory intent. Finally, the panel remanded plaintiffs' First Amendment viewpoint discrimination claim to the district court for further proceedings in accordance with its opinion.

Concurring in part and dissenting in part, Judge Clifton did not agree with the majority's conclusion that the equal protection claim must be remanded for trial. Judge Clifton stated that the equal protection claim should be remanded for further proceedings, without precluding further consideration of summary judgment.

Erwin Chemerinsky (argued), University of California Irvine School of Law, Irvine, California; Richard M. Martinez, Law Office of Richard M. Martinez, Tucson, Arizona; Anjana Malhotra, SUNY Buffalo Law School, Buffalo, New York; Sujal J. Shah, Jennifer MikoLevine, and Marcelo Quiñones, Bingham McCutchen, LLP, San Francisco, California; Lorraine Bannai, Robert S. Chang, and Charlotte Garden, Fred Korematsu Center for Law and Equity, Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, Washington, for Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-Appellees.

Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General, Jinju Park and Leslie Kyman Cooper (argued), Assistant Attorneys General, Office of the Arizona Attorney General, Phoenix, Arizona, for Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants.

Meriem Hubbard and Ralph Kasarda, Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, California, for Amicus Curiae Pacific Legal Foundation.

David Handzo, Julie Carpenter, and Elizabeth Bullock, Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae Freedom to Read Foundation, American Library Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Association for Ethnic Studies, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, and Reforma.

Samantha Blevins, Arizona Education Association, Phoenix, Arizona; Alice O'Brien, Jason Walta, and Kristen Hollar, National Education Association, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae National Education Association and Arizona Education Association.

Charles Sipos, Nicholas Manheim, and David Perez, Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, Washington, for Amici Curiae Chief Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy and the Anti-Defamation League.

Brian Matsui, Jeremy Merkelson, Laura Heiman, and Betre Gizaw, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae Rodolfo Acuña, Bill Bigelow, Richard Delgado, and Jean Stefancic.

Marie Quasius, Ben Hellerstein, Tia Sargent, Raina Wagner, and Theodore Angelis, K& LGates LLP, Seattle, Washington; Steven Bender, Marc-Tizoc González, and Beth Lyon, Coral Gables, Florida, for Amicus Curiae Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory, Inc.

Warrington Parker and Mary Kelly Persyn, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, San Francisco, California, for Amici Curiae 48 Public School Teachers.

Before: John T. Noonan and Richard R. Clifton, Circuit Judges, and Jed S. Rakoff, District Judge.[**]

OPINION

JED S. RAKOFF, District Judge:

The children of the Tucson Unified School District (" TUSD" ), a majority of whom are of Mexican or other Hispanic descent, have a natural interest in knowing more about their cultural heritage and that of their community--or so the school board of Tucson decided, inaugurating a Mexican American Studies (" MAS" ) program in the Tucson public schools. Arizona state superintendents of education, in the belief that MAS was being perverted into a program for promoting ethnocentrism and reverse racism, successfully sponsored and implemented legislation that did away with the program. The issue this case presents is whether in so doing they and their colleagues violated the constitutional rights of TUSD students.

In 2010, the Arizona legislature passed H.B. 2281, codified at Arizona Revised Statutes (" A.R.S." ) § § 15-111 and 15-112, which directly led to the elimination of the MAS program. The statute prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that: (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," or (4) " Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." A.R.S. § 15-112(A). If the state board of education or the superintendent of public instruction determines that a school district is in violation of the statute, the district has sixty days to achieve compliance ( e.g., by eliminating the program), failing which the state superintendent or state board may direct the department of education to withhold ten percent of the district's state funding. A.R.S. § 15-112(B). The parties do not dispute that the statute was enacted almost entirely with the MAS program in mind, and MAS was the first and only ethnic studies program that has been found to be in violation of § 15-112.

This case was originally filed on October 18, 2010 by ten teachers and the director of TUSD's MAS program. The complaint was later amended to add two TUSD students, Maya Arce and Korina Lopez, and their parents as next best friends. A third student, Nicolas Dominguez, and his mother as his next best friend intervened in the case. However, Nicolas Dominguez and Korina Lopez voluntarily dismissed their appeals after graduating from high school, and the teachers' and director's claims were dismissed for want of standing in an Order dated January 10, 2012 from which no appeal has been taken. Thus, the only remaining plaintiffs are student Maya Arce and her father and next best friend, Sean Arce. Defendants are the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas,[1] the Arizona State Board of Education, and members of the Board of Education.

Plaintiffs assert that § 15-112, as enacted and enforced against the MAS program, violates their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Relevant to this appeal are plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim, First Amendment overbreadth and " viewpoint discrimination" claims, and Fourteenth Amendment void-for-vagueness claim. After § 15-112 was enacted and this lawsuit was commenced, plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment in their favor on their First Amendment overbreadth and Fourteenth Amendment vagueness claims, but did not move for summary judgment on their equal protection or First Amendment viewpoint discrimination claims. Defendants cross-moved for summary judgment in their favor on all of plaintiffs' First Amendment and vagueness claims. Subsequently, after § 15-112 was enforced against TUSD and TUSD eliminated the MAS program, plaintiffs filed their second motion seeking a preliminary injunction and asserting irreparable harm and a likelihood of success on their overbreadth, vagueness, equal protection, and viewpoint discrimination claims.

In a Memorandum Order dated March 8, 2013, the district court granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment with respect to § 15-112(A)(3) on First Amendment overbreadth grounds, but denied the motion with respect to all other claims on which plaintiffs had sought summary judgment. The court granted defendants' summary judgment motion with respect to all of plaintiffs' remaining First Amendment claims. It denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. Finally, it sua sponte granted summary judgment for defendants on plaintiffs' equal protection claim. The net of all this was to allow final judgment to be entered, dismissing all of plaintiffs' attacks on the statute and its application, except for plaintiffs' claim that § 15-112(A)(3) was unconstitutionally overbroad. Since, moreover, the district court determined that that section was severable from the other sections, the final judgment invalidated only § 15-112(A)(3).

Plaintiffs now appeal the district court's decision with respect to their equal protection claim, their First Amendment overbreadth claim with respect to § § 15-112(A)(2) and (A)(4), their First Amendment viewpoint discrimination claim, and their Fourteenth Amendment vagueness claim. Defendants cross-appeal the district court's decision that § 15-112(A)(3) is overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. We affirm the ...


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