NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

California Officials Evade Prop. 209

November 17, 1997

Despite Supreme Court action validating California's Proposition 209, which outlawed race and gender preferences, a number of elected officials continue to look for ways to avoid enforcing the law. Opponents of race- and gender-based preferences call these politicians and bureaucrats no different from Southern politicians who blocked schoolhouse doors after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

  • Oakland's city council adopted a plan last year to give preferences to local contractors in a city where, not coincidentally, many businesses are owned by minorities and women..
  • One Oakland city council member has said, "We can carve away at the proposition's effectiveness or pigeonhole it to a narrow set of circumstances."
  • San Jose officials junked its affirmative action statute, but now require contractors bidding for city jobs to prove they don't discriminate.
  • San Francisco -- dubbed "the city that won't" by one critical newspaper columnist -- has simply refused to change its affirmative action ordinance, which sets aside a portion of each agency's contracts for women and minorities.

Prop 209 does not ban affirmative action outright, but does ban preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in all public hiring, contracting and education..

Source: Carol Morello, "Controversial Measure Proves Difficult to Enforce," USA Today, November 17, 1997.


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