Supreme Court AB 540 Ruling a Triumph for Justice and Equality

June 06, 2011

Assembly Member Ricardo Lara Worked on AB540 under Late Assembly Member Marco Firebaugh

Sacramento, Calif. – Today, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to California’s state policy granting in-state college tuition for undocumented high school graduates upholding the legality of AB 540 (Firebaugh, 2001). California Assembly Bill 540 was signed into law on Oct. 12, 2001 by Governor Gray Davis. AB 540 allows all students in California who complete at least three years of in-state high school, graduate from high school in California or complete a GED program and sign an affidavit to pay in-state tuition for higher education, regardless of citizenship or residency. Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) worked on AB540 when he was staffer to the Late Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh (D- Bell Gardens).

“AB 540 was and continues to be about justice and equality for all students. The Supreme Court’s decision to reject the challenge proves, once again, that AB 540 students must to be treated equally. Assembly Member Firebaugh’s legacy lives on in the lives of the students AB 540 seeks to protect and today’s ruling ensures his life work is recognized,” said Lara.

On Oct. 4, 2006, the Yolo County Superior Court ruled in favor of the UC Board of Regents after a group of 42 former UC, California State University and California Community College students filed a lawsuit questioning the legality of AB540. However, that decision was overturned unanimously on Sept. 15, 2008, through the California Court of Appeal’s 3rd District in Sacramento. In 2010, the case was brought to the California Supreme Court, where AB 540 was upheld as the court overturned the 2008 appellate decision.

The plaintiffs filed a formal request to take Martinez et al. v. UC Board of Regents et al. before the Supreme Court on Feb. 14, 2011. After the court found in favor of the Board, the plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of certiorari — an appeal to a higher court to take up a case — with the U.S. Supreme Court.

CONTACT: JULIA JUAREZ (562) 529-3250