• September 1, 2015

Defenders of Affirmative Action Take Aim at California Ban to Derail Similar Measures in Other States

An activist group plans on Tuesday to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California's Proposition 209 ban on affirmative-action preferences in an attempt to hinder campaigns for similar measures in other states.

The lawsuit will be filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of black, Hispanic, and Native American students seeking admission to the University of California, according to a statement issued on Monday by the group mounting the litigation, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary.

The lawsuit will argue that the California measure, adopted by that state's voters in 1996, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by placing a distinct set of legal hurdles in front of minority groups seeking to increase their representation on the university system's campuses.

The coalition has made similar arguments in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a preference ban adopted by Michigan voters in 2006, in a case pending before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. George B. Washington, the group's lead lawyer, said last week that the group was filing its new challenge to Proposition 209 in an attempt to throw a wrench into campaigns on behalf of similar measures being mounted by the American Civil Rights Institute, a group established by the former University of California regent Ward Connerly.

The lawsuit comes as Arizona prepares to decide the fate of a proposed preference ban that state lawmakers voted last year to put on this November's ballot. Utah's Republican-dominated Legislature is considering, and widely expected to pass, a resolution to put a similar measure on the ballot there this fall.

The coalition needs to defeat Proposition 209, Mr. Washington said, because otherwise the American Civil Rights Institute is "going to go and play bully boy with minorities in states like Utah and Arizona." With a legal win in California, he said, "we think we will turn it around completely" and "they are just not going to have any strength anymore."

A similar challenge to Proposition 209 was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1997. Mr. Washington said he believed the latest challenge had a good chance of succeeding, however, as a result of changes in the legal landscape arising from the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision. That ruling, involving the University of Michigan's law school, said colleges could constitutionally use race-conscious admissions policies to produce diversity if no reasonable race-neutral alternatives were available.

The American Civil Rights Institute is taking a fairly new approach in using legislative action to get proposed bans on such preferences placed on state ballots. Mr. Connerly and other advocates of such measures used citizen petitions to get on the ballot California's Proposition 209 and the preference bans passed by voters in Washington State in 1998, Michigan in 2006, and Nebraska in 2008. Despite its success in Nebraska, the campaign met with more defeat than victory in 2008, as it failed to gather enough petition signatures to get such measures on the ballot in Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma, and watched Colorado voters narrowly defeat a measure placed before them.

All of the measures proposed so far call for public colleges and other state and local agencies to be banned from granting affirmative-action preferences in employment, contracting, and education-related decisions.


1. jffoster - February 15, 2010 at 07:27 pm

Sounds like a harrassment suit to intimidate voters and legislatures in other states homping they won't want the ligitation. Well, some of us aren't willing to roll over and placate people just because they want to be placated.

"The lawsuit will argue that the California measure, adopted by that state's voters in 1996, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by placing a distinct set of legal hurdles in front of minority groups seeking to increase their representation on the university system's campuses."

Now there's a classic piece of double-speak propaganda. They regard it as a violation of the Constitution because they don't have the right to be discrimminated on behalf of.

Reichsminister Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels would be pleased.

2. drmoore - February 16, 2010 at 12:40 am

It's all about entitlement for anti-affirmative action advocates. They act like blacks and browns just stand in line and are handed scholarships and admissions offers. Not only must minorities compete against each other for the paltry number of diversity and access scholarships and admission offers, they must also compete against the majority population for other scholarships and access rights. Groups like Ward Connerly's believe that for every minority student who benefits from affirmative action, a majority student's "entitlement" to that scholarship or favorable admission decision has been violated. Case in point, the Michigan applicant claiming she was wronged because minorities got in ahead of her. She applied only to Michigan and was sure that her credentials and entitlement would get her in. Book sense would support her decision to apply to one Law School, common sense would not. As any admissions officer will tell you, students (especially majority population students) with sparkling academic credentials are a dime a dozen and they have to compete with each other because you don't have an atmosphere for actual "learning" (i.e. via cognitive dissonance) if your classrooms (especially law schools) are filled with "know-it-alls." This quest by colleges for intellectual and cultural diversity benefits the kid with a B+ average from a farm in Nebraska as well as the kid from the inner city with a B+ average. If you're into everyone looking the same and thinking the same, then you will never see the benefit of affirmative action (whose greatest beneficiaries are white women not in the good ole boy network and average non-networked white males who had to be given a shot at the good-ole boy network and who outnumber all the minorities in the US.)

3. dawgyo - February 16, 2010 at 08:23 am

Activists are forgetting that people of color are not merely black and brown but are oppressed Asians too. Asians are being ghettoized into certain depts such as computer science, engineering, and physics, in order to keep them out of depts such as education, anthropology, and sociology since so many other people of color are present in these intellectually challenging depts. This ploy by the powers that be is a divide and conquer approach to ultimately preserve white hegemony. Asians must not be force-fed white ways of knowing fostered in depts like chemistry and mathematics and must be allowed to add much needed diversity in education depts where the Asian presence is relatively meager thanks to the divide and conquer approach.

4. dlu39503 - February 16, 2010 at 09:45 am

I believe drmoore has been drinking the Kool Aid. Let's see, who is better off? The person who has access to race/gender based scholarships plus open competition scholarships, or the person who only has access to open competition scholarships. Based on drmoore's comments, it sounds like drmoore believes the second person is better off. Talk about an entitlement mentality. Of course, drmoore's choice of language is revealing. This little slice with emphasis added, "whose greatest beneficiaries are white WOMEN not in the good ole boy network and average non-networked white MALES who," is a perfect example of sexist language; some people never use the F word (female) because it is supposedly sexist, but use the M world (male) without a moment's hesitation. Of course, dawgyo continues the conspiracy theory thinking by claiming that the "powers that be" are forcing Asian students to pursue a limited selection of majors.

5. fergbutt - February 16, 2010 at 06:23 pm

Whatever happened to that dram that people be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character? I guess it's easier to make awards by mere race.

6. fergbutt - February 16, 2010 at 06:24 pm

OK, I meant "dream" -- not dram. I need a new keyboard.

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