October 12, 2011, 5:03 pm
A few days ago, Governor Jerry Brown did something unexpected: he vetoed a bill that would have restored racial and ethnic preferences for admission to California’s public colleges and universities. The bill, SB 185, was sponsored by state senator Ed Hernandez in a campaign that was nakedly about pandering to Hispanic voters. SB 185 was, in effect, an attempt to undo what California voters accomplished in 1996, when they passed Proposition 209, the measure that amended the state’s constitution to read:
The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
Foes of this civil-rights provision have tried over and over again without success to have it ruled unconstitutional. The most recent…