Smith v. Regents of University of California

Eliminating University of California’s Use of Discriminatory SAT and ACT Scores

For decades, the University of California’s use of discriminatory SAT and ACT scores deprived hundreds of thousands of well-qualified students of color, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities of the opportunity to pursue higher education in the nation’s preeminent public university system. Rather than provide meaningful information about a student’s ability to succeed in college, SAT and ACT scores act as stand-ins for students’ wealth and race, and thus advantage more privileged applicants. Even University leaders admit that the tests are “racist” and “correlated to wealth and privilege.”

Public Counsel and co-counsel brought this lawsuit on behalf of students and community organizations—Chinese for Affirmative Action, College Access Plan, College Seekers, Community Coalition, Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Little Manila Rising—challenging the University of California’s use of the SAT and ACT as discriminatory on the bases of race, wealth, and disability. In August 2020, Plaintiffs obtained a preliminary injunction requiring the University to immediately stop using the tests for undergraduate admissions and scholarship determinations. Plaintiffs then defeated the University’s attempts to prevent the injunction from taking effect. In the admissions cycle following the injunction, UC saw record gains in numbers of Black and Latinx students applying to and gaining admission to its campus.

In May 2021, Plaintiffs reached a groundbreaking settlement with the University, barring it from using the tests through at least 2025.


Superior Court of California, County of Alameda



Case No.