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Capitol Update June 25, 2020

 June 25, 2020

California Federation of Republican Women
Sue Blair, President

By Candice Burroughs, CFRW Resolutions Chair

Is Affirmative Action Coming Back?

Another reason for CFRW to get out the vote in November, is happening this week in Sacramento.  During the last week of the Legislative session, the Senate will vote on Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which explicitly repeals the language of Proposition 209.  Our battle weary Republican senators will hold firm, but the democrat Super Majority may once again prevail at another attempt to change CA government. The Bill is now in the hands of the State Senate, which must ratify the measure by today, June 25, if it is going to appear on the November 3rd ballot. (Update: On June 24 the Senate Approved ACA 5 confirming that it will be on the November Ballot.)

During a time when people seemed more civil and government in CA leaned to the right, a historic citizens’ initiative was approved by nearly 55% of the voters. The year was 1996, and Prop. 209 put an end to affirmative action, which anyway you look at it, promotes legal discrimination. This ballot initiative amended the California Constitution to prohibit the state from “discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the base of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”

Ward Connerly, an African American, was one of the strongest proponents of Prop. 209.  He stated in a 1998 interview with Reason‘s Michael Lynch, “Racial preferences are dead, we are going back to what John F. Kennedy said in 1963, that race has no place in American life or law.”

Prop. 209 was hailed as the new era of equal opportunity under the law, where Californians would be judged only by their merit.  Fast forward to 2020, where critics argue that this law has been devastating for women and people of color, curtailing efforts to diversify university campuses, police departments, and school workforces.

Supporters of this Bill call themselves champions of civil rights, but ACA 5 defies the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.  Both acts ban discrimination.  At the end of the day, it is impossible to fight discrimination by legislating new discrimination.  ACA 5 will only create legal discrimination in places where we currently have policies that attempt to treat everyone the same.

Affirmative action proponent, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego has capitalized on the most recent crisis, and has not let it go to waste.  While we were all watching FOX News and the devastation across our Country ignited after the tragic death of George Floyd, she presented her Bill to the Assembly, which was quickly passed, and is now in the hands of our State Senate.

In addition, at a special meeting on June 15, the Board of Regents of the University of California unanimously voted to restore affirmative action programs and endorsed the repeal of Prop. 209, the law that banned “preferential treatment” for minority groups applying to state colleges and government jobs.  This vote comes on the heels of the regents’ vote to phase out the SAT and ACT testing requirement for admissions due to concerns they unfairly disadvantage students based on race, income, and parental education levels.

Janet Napolitano, UC President, has stated “the face of the university does not fully represent the rich diversity of our state.”  With 285,000 students enrolled in 10 campuses, Asians account for 33% of the undergraduates, followed by 21% Whites, Latinos at 22%, and Blacks at 4%. The California population is currently represented by 39% Latinos, 37% Whites, 15% Asian and 6.5% Blacks.

The data shows that since 1994, UC first-year freshman enrollment for Blacks/African Americans have almost doubled, first-year freshman enrollment for Hispanic/Latinos increased by almost 243%, while White first-year freshmen enrollment is equal to what it was in 1994.  By contrast, the California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public university with 23 campuses and nearly 482,000 students, has a student body that is nearly 75% people of color.

It has been nearly a quarter-century and here we go again.  Are you dizzy from riding the merry-go-round?  You should be, because too many of us fought this battle before, and we will again be in the trenches trying to take the same hill.  If we are to return our government into the hands of likeminded common sense leaders, we must field the entire army.  We will support President Trump to ensure he gets reelected, but we must also help elect Republicans to every office down to the “dog catcher.”  

Our Republican leaders in Sacramento need more members; they cannot do the job we need them to do, unless we fight to elect Republicans in all offices across the state.  We have lots of work to do ladies!

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