California’s Affirmative Action Amendment Sparks Debate on Discrimination

A new amendment to California’s constitution would permit using race and gender as factors for college admissions, government hiring, and government contracting.

Proponents hope it will allow for hiring and admissions that support disadvantaged groups. Opponents say it could result in discrimination, and they urge for other methods of supporting the disadvantaged.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA-5) would undo 1996’s Proposition 209⁠—which prohibits the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment, on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

“The ban on race-conscious and gender-conscious remedies do not allow for us to deal with root causes of systemic failures,” ACA-5’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), said when she introduced the legislation.

“California is out of step with 42 other states, being only one in eight states with this ban.”

“The removal of 209 would not burden you, because it is permissive and not prescriptive and does not mandate anything,” she said. “But for leaders who want to help remedy gender bias and disparity, Proposition 209 has only served as an impediment to act on best practices aligned with the United States Constitution.”

If the amendment passes the state Senate on June 25, it will go onto the November ballot for Californians to decide.

It has support from over a hundred various organizations and entities, including the American Civil Liberties Union California, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the California Faculty Association. But it also has vocal opponents.

A ‘No’ Vote
Assemblyman Steven Choi (R-Irvine) voted “no” on the resolution before it passed the Assembly on June 10.

“I felt that [ACA-5] was against the spirit of America and Democracy in that we pursue the equality for everyone regardless the race, color of skin, national origin, sex, religion, or whatever,” he told The Epoch Times. “Proposition 209 was passed by Californian people to break those differences or barriers for the equal opportunity for everyone.”

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