The California Third District Court of Appeal has upheld a bill, signed into law by Gov. Brown in September 2012, prohibiting the Law School Admission Council from “flagging” prospective students who received accommodations on the law school entrance exam.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the LSAC must provide reasonable accommodations to test takers with disabilities, such as large print or Braille, longer study breaks, or, most commonly, additional time to take the test.
For students in the latter category, however, the LSAC, when sending their results to law schools, provides an additional letter explaining that applicant took the Law School Admissions Test “under nonstandard time conditions,” that “LSAC research indicates that scores earned under nonstandard time conditions do not have the same meaning as scores earned under standard time conditions,” and the “applicant’s score should be interpreted with great sensitivity and flexibility.”
The California legislature passed a bill prohibiting this practice in 2012, prompting a lawsuit from LSAC, which argues that the bill violates the state’s equal protection clause by treating its test differently from those provided by other testing companies, such as the Educational Testing Service and the College Board.
In February 2013, a Sacramento trial court issued a preliminary injunction, blocking the bill from going into effect.
The Third District Court of Appeal then temporary lifted the injunction, awaiting its final decision.
In a 39-page opinion, dated January 13, the Third District Court of Appeal dismissed the LSAC’s equal protection argument.
“For purposes of preventing discrimination in the law school admissions process, LSAC is not similarly situated to ETS, College Board, AAMC, or any other standardized testing entity,” the Court stated. “The reason is simple. No other standardized testing entity sponsors a law school admissions test.”
Although it dismissed the equal protection claim, the Court, however, stated that the LSAC may still prevail on its secondary argument, that the law violates its freedom of speech under the state constitution.