Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

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Key Impact Cases - Challenging Unconstitutional Laws

We have participated in major civil rights cases challenging unconstitutional laws that target immigrants and communities of color in coalition with other civil rights groups.

Gregorio T. v. Wilson (1994)

Advancing Justice - LA participated in a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 187, which barred undocumented immigrants from receiving a wide range of public services. This case, led by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the ACLU, resulted in a federal district court’s invalidating Proposition 187.

Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson (1996)

Advancing Justice - LA supported a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 209, which prohibited the consideration of race or ethnicity in the state’s public contracting, education, and employment. Although Proposition 209 withstood this challenge, Advancing Justice - LA has remained committed to supporting race-conscious policies in public institutions throughout the country.

Castaneda v. University of California Regents (1998)

Advancing Justice - LA represented highly qualified African American, Latino, and Filipino students who were denied admission to UC Berkeley. In partnership with other civil rights groups, Advancing Justice - LA challenged the university’s admissions policy as being discriminatory by, among things, giving undue weight to standardized test scores and extra GPA points for courses that were not equally available to students of color in California. The case resulted in a settlement in 2003 when UC Berkeley adopted “comprehensive review,” the admissions policy still in use today and which has been adopted by UCLA as well. UC Berkeley also agreed to hire a consultant identified by Advancing Justice - LA and co-counsel to help implement and monitor an admissions process that takes into account the whole definition of “merit.”

In re Marriage Cases (2007)

Advancing Justice - LA led a coalition of 60 Asian American organizations to file an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court in support of In re Marriage Cases, a case seeking marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. The Court held that gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry and that a statutory ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. However, after this Supreme Court decision, California voters passed Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. Advancing Justice - LA filed an amicus brief with other civil rights partners challenging the legality of Proposition 8 and has continued to advocate for marriage equality for gays and lesbians through legal advocacy and community education.

Valle del Sol v. Brewer (2010)

In partnership with other leading civil rights organizations, Advancing Justice - LA filed a class action lawsuit challenging Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070. As written, the bill requires state law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of individuals whom law enforcement officers “reasonably suspect” are undocumented immigrants, potentially resulting in prolonged detention. The statute attempts to construct a special immigration enforcement regime for Arizona, creating new state-law criminal offenses relating to immigration. Advancing Justice - LA is co-counseling the case with several groups, including the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Law Center. Munger, Tolles & Olson serves as pro bono counsel.

Fisher v. UT Austin (2012)

In August 2012, Advancing Justice - LA, together with the three other affiliates of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Fisher v. UT Austin. In that case, the Supreme Court was to rule on whether UT Austin’s use of race as one of many factors in its undergraduate admissions is constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Advancing Justice’s brief addressed why race-conscious policies like UT Austin’s are important to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Advancing Justice argued that in contrast to racial balancing, an admissions policy that appropriately considers race helps ensure equal access to higher education for communities of color. The brief also addressed the harmful effects of over-reliance on test scores as a measure of merit, and how the benefits of a diverse student body are experienced by all students, who receive an enhanced quality of education and are better prepared to become leaders in an increasingly multi-cultural society. 

In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld universities’ right to consider race as on factor in the admissions process, and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit to consider whether UT Austin’s admissions program’s consideration of race is narrowly tailored consistent with constitutional principles. Advancing Justice also filed an amicus brief with the Fifth Circuit after the case was remanded there, reiterating the importance of race-conscious admissions policies to achieving equal education opportunity.


Our helplines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: discrimination, family, immigration, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights. 

English: 888.349.9695
中文: 800.520.2356
한글: 800.867.3640
Tagalog: 855.300.2552
ภาษาไทย: 800.914.9583
Tiếng Việt: 714.477.2958


Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.