California legislators and the governor should carry a copy of the state constitution in their pockets and refer to it when writing and signing bills. It’s a useful guide, laying out what the people have a right to do and what the government shall not do. For example, Article I, Section 31 reads in part:
“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.”
Thirteen years ago, 54 percent of voters passed Proposition 209, which added this language to the state’s constitution. But politicians act as though it doesn’t exist. Last October, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who swore to uphold the constitution, signed into law a bill that directs state departments to award government contracts to the lowest responsible bidder subcontracting 15 percent of the work to minority-owned businesses and five percent to female-owned businesses. The contractor who fails to do so will be rejected, even if he’s the lowest bidder.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, an organization dedicated to keeping discrimination and preferential treatment out of government, filed suit against the state, alleging that the law violated Article I, Section 31. Ward Connerly, who led the Prop. 209 campaign and was named as a plaintiff in the suit, is president of the American Civil Rights Institute, and I blog for the organization.
The latest attempt to circumvent the law came yesterday, as the California Assembly passed a bill that would allow the (taxpayer-supported) University of California and California State University systems to consider skin color in admissions. (Source)
The lawmaker who introduced the bill that would violate state law believes racial preferences are needed to deal with the “education gap” between the races. But racial preferences almost always entail lowered standards. Admitting minority students with lower scores than whites and Asians highlights the disparities. It might help the diversity-obsessed sleep better at night, but preferences don’t narrow the achievement gap, and they place students in academic settings for which they’re unprepared.
If by “education gap,” the lawmaker was referring to levels of schooling, and not academic achievement per se, then preferences, in a sense, work.
Even if racial preferences accomplished what social engineers and the professional civil rights industry hoped, they are discriminatory. Preferring one individual over another based on race means the other individual is passed over based on race. Has anyone read the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act lately?
As I’ve said so many times, I could recite it while comatose, the civil rights movement’s goal was to dismantle government-sanctioned and government-mandated racial discrimination. Blacks fought to be treated fairly as individuals protected by law, and not judged based on group membership. How things got turned around, where some blacks started demanding special treatment, is another topic for another post.
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