LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld California’s ban on using race, ethnicity and gender in admitting students to public colleges and universities.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state’s landmark voter initiative, Proposition 209, does not violate students’ constitutional rights.

The ruling is the latest to uphold the ban in a long list of legal challenges seeking to overturn it since it was passed by voters in 1996.

The ruling upholds a previous decision by the same court in 1997.

Backers of affirmative action argued that the court should reconsider the ruling in light of more recent decisions elsewhere in the nation that reinstated affirmative action in college admissions.

In California, affirmative action proponents say campus diversity has suffered since taking race out of admissions consideration.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)